"We are here to claim back democratic public space. We are here to say as much as you try, you can’t stifle speech. You can’t stop expression of thought by thinking Malaysians.“We are here this morning in the sun, in the car park, in the heart of Kuala Lumpur not for ourselves alone. We do this not for our friends alone, we do this not for our families alone, we do this not for our fellow Malaysians alone but for the future generations of Malaysia.“The Sedition Act is a law specifically designed to shut you up and we have seen the unprecedented use of this abusive act in the last three months against, students, law professors, lawyers, journalists, members of civil society, members of parliament and members of state assemblies.“We demand the government to abide by its pledge to repeal the Sedition Act.”- Christopher Leong, Malaysian Bar President, 16/10/2014
“Kerajaan telah membuat keputusan agar Akta Hasutan 1948 dimansuhkan dan digantikan dengan suatu rang undang undang yang dikenali sebagai Akta Keharmonian Nasional. Keputusan menggantikan Akta Hasutan dibuat kerana kita mahu mencari mekanisme yang dapat menentukan keseimbangan terbaik diantara keperluan menjamin kebebasan bersuara setiap warganegara sesuai dan selaras dengan peruntukan dan jaminan yang terkandung di dalam Perlembangan Pesekutuan dan keperluan untuk menangani kompleksiti kemajmukan yang wujud dinegara ini. With this new Act we would be better equipped to manage our national fault lines. It would also help to strengthen national cohesion by protecting national unity and nurturing religious harmony….
Kerajaan sedar bahawa umum menganggap Akta Hasutan 1948 sebagai alat kerajaan untuk merencatkan tindakan dan pandangan yang tidak sealiran dengan kerajaan. Walaupun anggapan sedemikian adalah tidak berasas sama sekali, kita perlu menghapuskan persepsi tersebut. Lantaran itu, peruntukan-peruntukan baru ini tidak akan menghalang rakyat untuk mengkritik kerajaan dan pentadbiran keadilan….
Pada analisis akhirnya saya teringat kepada pendapat ahli falsafah tersohor Britain, John Locke: “The end of law is, not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom”. Second Treatise Of Civil Government (1690)….
Melalui pemansuhan dan penggubalan undang-undang yang sedang berjalan, kerajaan mahu memastikan ruang demokratik yang mencukupi disediakan untuk perbezaan pendapat serta persaingan idea. Pucuk pangkalnya, kita mahu mencipta sebuah Malaysia di mana prinsip hak asasi manusia dijunjung, kebebasan individu untuk menyatakan pendapat secara terbuka diraikan, seraya kepentingan individu dan komuniti diimbangi.”
“[W]e must pursue a different kind of politics…We must break the cycle where one group gains power only to wield it against the other. Where marginalisation leads to radicalisation, as people lose confidence in the state’s ability to provide both security and co-existence. Individuals and ethnic and religious groups need to feel they have a stake in a nation’s success, not its failure. So we should commit to more inclusive politics.”
“… Minda terbuka dapat memerdekakan jiwa individu daripada sebarang prejudis dan buruk sangka. Minda terbuka akan mengupayakan seseorang memahami malah menghormati pandangan pihak lain betapa berlainan sekalipun. Minda terbuka akan menyuburkan perasaan sabar dan toleransi untuk bersedia mendengar hujah yang berbeza betapa sekali tidak dipersetujui. Minda terbuka akan memberikan ruang untuk membolehkan lahir dan tumbuhnya idea baru, menyemarakkan budaya inovasi dan menyuburkan minda kreatif. Minda terbuka adalah komponen amat penting untuk membantu mengukuhkan amalan demokrasi di dalam sesebuah negara…
…Malah minda terbuka adalah faktor yang telah memungkinkan tertubuhnya sebuah negara bangsa melalui kejayaan mencantumkan rakyat daripada pelbagai agama, negeri, kaum, budaya dan bahasa menjadi satu warga kepada sebuah negara Malaysia yang merdeka; minda terbuka juga berjaya menyatukan matlamat di kalangan sembilan Raja yang bersemayam di istana dengan rakyat jelata di serata kota dan desa. Nyatalah minda terbuka adalah aset sementara minda tertutup adalah liabiliti.”
(Our translation: “…Open-mindedness liberates the spirit of an individual from any form of prejudice or ill-will. Open-mindedness enables one to understand and respect the views of others no matter how contrarian they may be. Open-mindedness enables patience and tolerance to be able to listen to dissenting views no matter how disagreeable they may be……Open-mindedness is the factor that has made possible the establishment of a nation by the successful union of people of diverse religions, states, ethnicities, culture and language to form an independent country called Malaysia; open-mindedness also achieved unity of purpose among nine Rajas who reside in the palace with the citizens of all the cities and the countryside. Clearly, open-mindedness is an asset whereas close- mindedness is a liability.”)
* Christopher Leong is the President of the Malaysian Bar Council.
|You can’t stifle speech, says Malaysian Bar president at start of anti-Sedition Act march|
|Friday, 17 October 2014 07:55am|
©Malay Mail (Used by permission)|
by Ida Lim and Yiswaree Palansamy
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16 ― They started gathering at the Padang Merbok carpark from before 10am and by the time the Malaysian Bar Council’s “Walk for Peace and Freedom” was slated to start, there was a crowd of about 200 lawyers andmembers from several non-government organisations.
Malaysian Bar president Chris Leong told the crowd, “We are here to claim back democratic public space. We are here to say as much as you try, you can’t stifle speech. You can’t stop expression of thought by thinking Malaysians.
“We are here this morning in the sun, in the car park, in the heart of Kuala Lumpur not for ourselves alone. We do this not for our friends alone, we do this not for our families alone, we do this not for our fellow Malaysians alone but for the future generations of Malaysia.
“The Sedition Act is a law specifically designed to shut you up and we have seen the unprecedented use of this abusive act in the last three months against, students, law professors, lawyers, journalists, members of civil society, members of parliament and members of state assemblies.
“We demand the government to abide by its pledge to repeal the Sedition Act.”
While waiting for the march to start, the energetic crowd chanted “Mansuh Akta Hasutan” and “Hidup Malaysia.”
Various members of the Bar Council like Steven Thiru, Firdaus Husni, Syahredzan Johan, and Richard Wee took turns to address the crowd which grew to about 400 people.
Steven, the Malaysian Bar’s vice-president, said Malaysians could no longer wait for the government to repeal the Sedition Act, noting that two years had passed since the prime minister pledged to repeal the colonial-era law.
“We are stand here today because we defy all forms of oppression, we defy all forms of injustice, we defy all forms of repression.
“We want the Sedition Act to be repealed, not tomorrow, now. We are not waiting for next year,” he said, reiterating his observation that the law has been used to the “hilt”.
Andrew Khoo, the co-chair of the Bar Council’s Human Rights Committee, noted that the United Nations is set to vote for new members into its Security Council — where Malaysia is vying for a spot.
“We must hold the government to account, If you want to play in the international stage, you must make sure the rule of law applies equally back home in your backyard.
“We will keep the pressure up. We will never relent until we have the abolition of the Sedition Act and rule of law in the country,” he told the lawyers gathered there in their black suits, with some wearing the Bar Council's blue caps made for the walk.
A high-spirited crowd numbering more than 1,000 — mostly lawyers — began their march at 11.40am in a peaceful and orderly manner from the Padang Merbok car park on Jalan Parlimen in the city centre, with the Bar Council’s marshals and police standing by on the pavements to help direct traffic.
They arrived in front of the Parliament building just a few hundred metres down the road at about noon.
Leong estimated that around 1,500 to 2,000 lawyers turned up for the march today.
In just nine months this year, 12 cases have been prosecuted under the Sedition Act ― the highest figure since 2009 ― raising alarm in civil society of Putrajaya’s perceived clampdown on dissent.
Eight cases were brought to trial under the Sedition Act in 2013, while only one case each made it to court in both 2009 and 2011; there was a complete absence of sedition charges during 2010 and 2012.
Today’s march will be just the fourth in the Malaysian Bar’s 67-year history.
Recent marches include the 2007 “Walk for Justice” and the 2011 “Walk for Freedom to Walk” over a judicial appointment scandal and the PAA Bill, respectively; both drew estimated crowds of between 1,000 and 2,000 people.- Malay Mail from Malaysian Bar Website
By Koh Jun Lin and Lee Long Hui
Lawyers march against Sedition Act
The protesters were seen milling about Padang Merbuk in the Kuala Lumpur city centre as early as 9.30am, and started their march at 11.40am after chanting slogans and hearing speeches by Bar Council representatives.
Among the prominent personalities present were Bar Council president Christopher Leong (right), former Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan, her successor Maria Chin Abdullah, Parti Sosialis Malaysia secretary-general S Arulchelvan, Himpunan Hijau chief Wong Tack, and opposition parliamentarians Teo Nie Ching, Nga Kor Ming, R Sivarasa, Ong Kian Ming and Gobind Singh Deo.
The protest was organised by the Bar Council, with the support of the Malaysian Bar, which overwhelmingly voted in favour of holding the protest during an emergency general meeting on Sept 19.
However, according to the Malaysian Bar's estimate 2,500 people joined the march.
Dubbed “Walk for Peace and Freedom”, it is the fourth such protest held by the Bar Council in its 67-year history.
The last was in 2011 to oppose a bill that is now known that the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.
A group of Orang Asli, dressed in traditional garments, and university students chanting for academic freedom, were also seen marching with the lawyers.
A small band – with guitar, didgeridoo, tambourine, and a small hand drum – played music while marching and at the sidewalk outside Parliament.
Police presence at the protest was light, mostly to direct traffic, with the help of Kuala Lumpur City Hall enforcement officers and the Bar Council’s own rally marshals.
Rally and counter-rally
Upon reaching the parliament, 10 Bar Council representatives led by Leong met with Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Mah Siew Keong, who received a memorandum from the protesters on behalf of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak
The temperature was a scorching 30 degrees Celsius, with little wind and scattered clouds.
Despite the heat, most of the lawyers were dressed in black jackets – their full court attire – and chanted slogans outside the parliament while waiting for their leaders to return.
“Long live the people! Abolish the Sedition Act!”, the protesters chanted, while carrying anti-Sedition Act banners and placards.
One particularly good-humoured placard read: “Bloody hell it’s hot. Abolish the Sedition Act and let’s go for ice cream.”
Representatives from journalist group Gerakan Media Marah (Geramm) were at the protest, along with a handful of off-duty journalists, following a call by the group to walk in solidarity with the lawyers.
Meanwhile a group of about 10 youths held a counter rally at the Bank Negara roundabout at the same time.
The group, with some wearing face masks, held placards with messages like 'Preserve Sedition Act'.
Protest is public feedback
At about 1pm, about an hour after entering Parliament, Leong emerged with his entourage to announce the protest a success.
“We have achieved what we have set out to do today, which is to convey our views on your behalf to the prime minister, via Minister Mah (Siew Keong),” he said, before thanking the participants for coming and the police for facilitating the protest.
Nevertheless, he vowed that the Bar Council will continue its campaign against the Sedition Act until it is abolished.
Leong repeated his speech at least three times, each time moving from one part of the crowd to another to address them via a megaphone.
Speaking to reporters later, Leong claimed that the number of lawyers who attended the protest number between 1,000 and 1,500, but is unsure how many non-lawyers participated.
Leong said that this walk is in response to the effort initiated by the prime minister to obtain public feedback on the abolition of the Sedition Act and its replacement.
He hoped the leader would remain steadfast and committed to his pledge and promise.
“As they say, ‘Janji Ditepati’ (Promise Fulfilled), so we hope that would be the case in this occasion,” he added.
The protesters dispersed peacefully at 1.15pm.- Malaysiakini, 16/10/2014, Lawyers march against Sedition Act
Malaysian Bar marches against sedition
In a fiery speech at the start, Bar Council president Christopher Leong said the act was created to shut people up and Putrajaya was using it just to do that.
“This is an unprecedented abuse against lawyers, students, journalist and civil society. We are here to claim back the democratic public place. As much as you may try, you cannot stop our freedom of expression, our thoughts. We will ask why," said Leong.
Despite the heat, hundreds of lawyers in suits gathered at Padang Merbok from 9.40am today for the “justice and freedom walk against the Sedition Act”. The Malaysian Bar previously walked in protest against the Peaceful Assembly Act in 2012, against allegations that judicial appointments were fixed in 2007 and amendments to the Societies Act in 1982.
The group began walking towards the Parliament at about 11.40am, with lawyers holding placards and banners, chanting "Hidup Hidup Rakyat" (Long live the people) and "Mansuh Mansuh Akta Hasutan" (Abolish Sedition Act).
About 10 of them will be going into the Parliament to hand over the memorandum to the representative of the Prime Minister's Department, calling for the Sedition Act to be abolished.
Leong said the group then met with Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Mah Siew Keong and handed him the memorandum that called upon Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to repeal the Sedition Act as he had promised in 2012.
In the memorandum, the Malaysian Bar also urged Najib and Putrajaya to commit and promote the building of a fair, just, harmonious, unified, moderate, progressive Malaysia and reject all forms of bigotry, racist and religious extremism.
After the meeting, Leong, in a statement, admitted that changes would take time and said that the Bar Council would continue to play its role within the period.
"We are saying that you cannot punish people because they are expressing their thoughts, because you did not like what they said or because you did not agree with what they said.
"The Sedition Act is in fact a counter-productive measure to better Malaysian.”
He said the Malaysian Bar was aware that there were some fault-lines when it came to a multiracial country but the fault-lines should not be dealt using the act.
"We have to deal with it through dialogues and exchanging of ideas.”
Putrajaya embarked on a sedition blitz in recent weeks even after Najib had continued to give assurance that he would abolish the draconian law.
However, Putrajaya was also facing pressure from Umno grassroots and some Malay groups to retain the law, which they said would protect the position of the Malays, Islam and the monarchy.
The prime minister also appeared to renege on his promise with a statement from his office that said Putrajaya would tread carefully with the Sedition Act as it had not yet decided whether to go for a complete repeal, to retain it with amendments, or to introduce new laws.
The statement was contradictory to Najib's pledge two years ago to repeal the Sedition Act and replaced it with a National Harmony Act.
Among those who have fallen under the sedition dragnet are PKR vice-president N. Surendran, who was charged twice last month with sedition, Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, Seri Delima assemblyman RSN Rayer, Sabah politician David Orok, and Universiti Malaya law professor Dr Azmi Sharom and preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussein. – October 16, 2014. Malaysian Insider, 16/10/2014, Malaysian Bar marches against sedition