(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The arrest of DAP Malacca State Chairman Sim Tong Hin, who is also Malacca State Assemblyman for Bandar Hilir, in Malacca last night under the Sedition Act for distributing “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” pamphlet is a deplorable abuse of police power, contempt for the rule of law and gross misallocation of security resources at a time of heightened concerns in Malaysia and South East Asia about terrorist attacks post-Bali.
The arrest of Sim, who was later released on police bond requiring him to report back a month later, is all the more inexcusable after the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Chor Chee Heung had admitted in Parliament on September 23 last month in an oral question from DAP for Cheras, Tan Kok Wai, that the “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” pamphlet is not seditious.
It is most regrettable that when answering a highly provocative supplementary question from a Barisan Nasional MP, Chor came up with the novel proposition which is highly subversive of the integrity of the Malaysian constitution, a democratic culture and the rule of law, asserting that although the “No to 929” pamphlet is not seditious, distributing it may be seditious.
If Chor’s dangerous new-fangled proposition that even though the contents of a pamphlet do not incite and are not seditious, distributing it from place to place could be seditious and an arrestable offence, is not challenged, then this will be the thin end of a new wedge which could lead to a full-scale suppression of freedom of political and civil society activities such as the peaceful distribution of pamphlets.
It will not be long before Malaysia reaches a stage where the distribution of leaflets to defend the Malaysian Constitution, oppose draconian laws like the Internal Security Act, take any position opposed to the government stand or even to condemn terrorism could be construed as seditious on the purported ground that it could lead to disaffection among sections of the population!
Has Malaysian democracy reached such a fragile and brittle state where a non-seditious pamphlet could be regarded as seditious because of its peaceful distribution and the rule of law degraded to the extent that “sedition” is defined not by the seditious nature but the subjective whims and fancies of the powers- that-be?
DAP’s “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” people’s awareness campaign is not an anti-national, seditious or subversive campaign against the fundamental principles of Malaysian nation-building, but a patriotic and nationalist campaign to uphold and defend the 45-year constitutional principle of the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, supported by the “social contract”, the 20 Points and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement that Malaysia a democratic, secular, multi-religious, tolerant and progressive nation with Islam as the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic state, whether UMNO Islamic State or PAS Islamic State.
If anyone has flirted with sedition, it is the “929 Declaration” of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the Gerakan national conference on September 29 last year in unilaterally, arbitrarily and unconstitutionally announcing that Malaysia is an Islamic State.
Has the Police ever considered taking action against the Prime Minister as well as other Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders who had repeated his “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State, as having violated the Sedition Act, arresting them for the seditious and unconstitutional declarations and referring the matter to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for a decision?
In view of the continued gross abuse of police powers illustrated by the unlawful arrest of Sim, and the government persistence in trying to criminalize peaceful and legitimate political and constitutional activities, the DAP leadership will meet to discuss ways to take the “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” campaign to higher national plane in the defence of the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the social contract, the 20 Points and the Malaysia Agreement 1963..
*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman