Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Do not whittle down democratic space!


PRESS RELEASE

Do not whittle down democratic space!

The Malaysian Bar is concerned that the Police have resorted to the use of the Sedition Act 1948 yet again to stifle public opinion and dissenting voices that are unfavourable to the ruling government. The police force must remain above politics, and regain public confidence as an institution not mired in politics. It must not be seen as a tool to intimidate and cow those who express disagreement.

The arrest of Wong Chin Huat, seemingly for the “crime” of advocating that those who disagree with the events unfolding in Perak wear black tomorrow, does not augur well for the Prime Minister’s promise of openness and respect for the people. Healthy and open debate on issues of public concern must be permitted.

The Malaysian Bar also condemns the manner in which Wong was arrested and denied his right of access to counsel yesterday night.

We reiterate our stand that authoritarian and repressive legislation such as the Sedition Act 1948 is an absolute affront to democracy. We strongly urge the Government to repeal the Act, and to refrain from using it, particularly against those whose viewpoints differ from the ruling government’s.

Wong Chin Huat must be released immediately.

Ragunath Kesavan
President
Malaysian Bar

6 May 2009

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