Sarawak and Sabah State Assemblies should meet first to take a stand on the issue before a bill is presented to Parliament on amendment to the Sedition Act to categorise calls for secession of Sarawak and Sabah from Malaysia as sedition offences
Last Friday, I had pointed out the gross injustice of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak in buckling under pressure to the rightists and extremists in UMNO and UMNO-sponsored NGOs to renege on his promise in 2012 to repeal the repressive colonial law of Sedition Act and to announce its strengthening by roping in calls for secession of Sarawak and Sabah from Malaysia as offences under the Sedition Act without consulting the two states.
DAP does not support any call for secession of Sarawak and Sabah from Malaysia but we also do not support the retention and amendment of Sedition Act by adding new offences as calling for secession of Sarawak and Sabah from Malaysia as sedition crimes under the Act.
Nobody is surprised at the cavalier and contemptuous treatment meted out by UMNO to MCA, Gerakan and MIC leaders (PPP President had cogently spelt out the rules of the game for these Barisan Nasional component parties – “There are only two rules in the game: the boss is always right. If the boss is wrong, refer back to Rule 1.” ) but it violates a fundamental principle of the Malaysia Agreement when legislation directly affecting Sarawak and Sabah are not made in consultation with the two states.
Do the people, governments and legislatures of Sarawak and Sabah agree that the Sedition Act should be “strengthened” by the amendment to make calls for secession of Sarawak and Sabah from Malaysia as sedition offences?
As only a small group of people are calling for secession of Sarawak and Sabah from Malaysia, the proper and prudent response is to find out the root causes of their unhappiness and to take all remedial action if their grouses are legitimate and deserves prompt government action, and not to criminalise their views.
One way is for the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to examine into the unhappiness of the peoples of Sarawak and Sabah over the failures in the past five decades to honour Sarawak’s 18 Points and Sabah’s 20 Points which were the basis for their agreement to form Malaysia in 1963 – a proposal I had made many times in Parliament but with no support or even interest from the Barisan Nasional MPs whether from Sarawak or Sabah.
The Sarawak and Sabah State Assemblies should meet first to take the stand of the people, government and legislatures of Sarawak and Sabah before a bill is presented Parliaement to amend the Sedition Act to specificially categorise calls for secession of the two states from Malaysia as offences under the Sedition Act.
In actual fact, Najib has broken two pledges, when he announced the retention of the Sedition Act, together with proposals to “strengthen” the sedition law.
Secondly, his pledge in his UMNO Presidential speech to be “fair” in the enforcement of the laws against hate speeches which were broken in less than 24 hours.
This was because two DAP MPs Teo Nie Ching (Kulai) and Kasthuri Patto (Batu Kawan), my political secretary Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud and DAP activist Syefura Othman had lodged a police report against Kedah UMNO Wanita delegate Mashitah Ibrahim on Friday morning for her racist and incendiary hate speech lying about the Chinese community in Kedah burning the Quran “page by page during a prayer ritual” when the Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir had said that the incident involved a mentally-ill Malay individual who had torn the Quran.
There has been no police action for the past six days despite Najib’s promise to be fair in enforcement of the laws!
Furthermore, numerous police reports have also been lodged against the Penang UMNO delegate, Mohd Zaidi Mohd Said for his hate speech at the UMNO General Assembly, alleging that the Chinese in Penang profited from vice, crime and illegal businesses and also offending the Indians with a most derogatory and insensitive term.
Again, despite Najib’s promise to be “fair” in the enforcement of the Sedition Act, Mohd Zaidi appears to be “untouchable” who enjoys immunity and impunity from the sanctions of the law after his hate speech at the UMNO General Assembly.
In making the pledge that the Barisan Nasional government would be “fair” in the enforcement of the Sedition Act, Najib must assume responsibility for the recent dragnet of selective and malicious prosecutions of PR leaders, intellectuals and activists under the Sedition Act to create a climate of fear in the country.
How can Najib claim to be fair when sedition investigations and prosecutions are tainted by double standards, where there is selective and malicious prosecution against dissent while immunity and impunity for UMNO/BN leaders and supporters guilty of hate speeches and crimes, like the cases of Mohd Zaidi Mohd Said and Mashitah!
Yesterday, I asked the Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi what has happened to his solemn undertaking and public oath more than two months ago swearing that the police will act within 24 hours if police reports are lodged against any individual which impinged on a sensitive issue, he had failed to live up to his oath in both cases of Mohd Zaidi and Mashitah, and whether his public oath was just a public relations exercise not to be taken seriously?
Zahid’s continued silence is deafening, especially coming from a very trigger-happy Home Minister. I am still waiting for Zahid’s response. Will it have to take more than 24 hours?