Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Use of draconian Sedition Act against movers of Bar Motion after Resolution adopted is wrong?

The said motion on the Attorney General was tabled at the 70th Malaysian Bar AGM, was discussed, considered and adopted as a Resolution of the Malaysian Bar. See post for the adopted resolution:-

Malaysian Bar calls on Mohamed Apandi Ali to immediately resign as Attorney General, for the good of Malaysia...

Section 42(1) Legal Profession Act  1976 
The purpose of the Malaysian Bar shall be -
(a) to uphold the cause of justice without regard to its own interests or that of its members, uninfluenced by fear or favour;...

(d) where requested so to do, to express its view on matters affecting legislation and the administration and practice of the law in Malaysia;

It must be pointed out that the Malaysian Bar and many people are against the draconian Sedition Act, and has repeatedly called for its repeal. Find below a report of the Malaysian.

The Malaysian Bar convened an Extraordinary General Meeting (“EGM”) on 19 Sept 2014 to condemn the use and continued use of the Sedition Act 1948.At that EGM, the Bar resoundingly resolved to hold a peaceful assembly to protest the recent spate of arrests, charges and investigations under the Sedition Act 1948 (“Act”), in its “Resolution against the Sedition Act, other laws and actions taken which stifle speech and expression, and matters in connection therewith”.

The Bar Council then had the Walk for Peace and Freedom 2014 (“Walk”) at 10:30 am on 16 Oct 2014, which was attended by about 2,000 lawyers, and others calling for the repeal of the Sedition Act. (see below for the full report obtained from the Malaysian Bar Website.)

An extract of that 2014 Resolution of the Malaysian Bar is as follows:-

(C) The Malaysian Bar condemns the use and continued use of the Sedition Act 1948, in particular its selective use, and the excessive sentences meted out by the Judiciary. 

(D) The Malaysian Bar calls upon the Malaysian Government to abide by its pledge to repeal the Sedition Act 1948, and to forthwith repeal the Sedition Act 1948.

(E) The Malaysian Bar calls on the Attorney General to forthwith withdraw all pending charges, cases and appeals, and to concede to all pending appeals, under the Sedition Act 1948 in the courts of Malaysia; and calls upon the Judiciary to prevent the systematic abuse of the Sedition Act 1948, and to uphold the rule of law and the right of all to freedom of speech and expression.

(F) The Malaysian Bar calls upon the Malaysian Government to forthwith impose a moratorium on the use of the Sedition Act 1948 pending its repeal, and for the police to cease all investigations pursuant to the Sedition Act 1948.
Now, members of the Bar are being investigated under the Sedition Act, and this is unacceptable.


Lawyers behind motion for AG's removal summoned under Sedition Act

Published     Updated    

Lawyers who submitted the motion to discuss attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali's position for refusing to prosecute Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak over deposits in his personal bank accounts have been summoned by police under the Sedition Act.

Francis Pereira, one of three lawyers who proposed the motion at the Malaysian Bar annual general assembly (AGM) on March 19, confirmed that he received a letter from Bukit Aman.

Pereira added that his colleague, R Shanmugam, who was another proposer of the motion, also received the letter.

"The Bukit Aman letter clearly states that it is with regard to a police report made on the motion presented at the Bar AGM.

"They said the investigation is under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act," he told Malaysiakini when contacted.
Section 4(1) concerns offences that have a seditious tendency.

Pereira (photo) said he and Shanmugam were summoned to give their witness statements under Section 112, but is not clear whether they would merely be facilitating investigations or may become the subject of the investigation.

He described the police investigation as "shocking" and an intrusion into the Malaysian Bar's independence.

"We are shocked and surprised that the police have taken this investigation to the lawyers.

"Clearly, this was a motion debated at out AGM, which was a closed-door meeting.

"There is no basis for opening an investigation into our motion and it is definitely an intrusion into the independence of the Bar," he said.

The motion, after being debated at the Malaysian Bar AGM, resulted in a resolution calling for Apandi's resignation.

According to the letter sighted by Malaysiakini, it was issued by Bukit Aman's Criminal Investigation Department.

Pereira and Shanmugam were told to present themselves at the Bukit Aman police headquarters at 2.30pm on Thursday.

Presence requested

Later today, the third proposer Charles Hector said he too finally received a similar letter requesting his presence at the same date and venue.

Hector said he was shocked by the investigation, adding that the use of the Sedition Act was also "wrong".
"The Malaysian Bar has been consistent against the Sedition Act, it is a draconian law. Even the truth is not a defence," he said.

Elaborating on the motion, Hector said there was nothing "unusual" about it as the Malaysian Bar had in the past proposed various reforms and this motion was no exception.

Hector added the three movers only proposed the motion for discussion but it was the Malaysian Bar which ultimately passed the resolution on Apandi with overwhelming majority.

"I'm wondering why the police are calling in the movers of the motion because, yes, we moved the motion, (but) it is something that can be discussed, changed and amended.

"It was voted on and the overwhelming majority passed the resolution. Targeting the movers is something very wrong," he said.

In passing the resolution, the Malaysian Bar had noted that it "continues doing all that is necessary to promote the rule of law, and a just administration of justice in Malaysia".

The full text of the resolution can be read here.

- Malaysiakini, 29/3/2016

Walk for Peace and Freedom 2014 | Repeal the Sedition Act! (16 Oct 2014) PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 20 November 2014 09:14am
Contributed by Joane Sharmila, Editor and Chin Oy Sim, Deputy CEO, and photos by Mohamad Fazli b Rosman and Jul Indra Tofan b Jahrul, Administrative Assistants, Bar Council

The Malaysian Bar convened an Extraordinary General Meeting (“EGM”) on 19 Sept 2014 to condemn the use and continued use of the Sedition Act 1948. 
At that EGM, the Bar resoundingly resolved to hold a peaceful assembly to protest the recent spate of arrests, charges and investigations under the Sedition Act 1948 (“Act”), in its “Resolution against the Sedition Act, other laws and actions taken which stifle speech and expression, and matters in connection therewith”.

The Bar Council determined that the Walk for Peace and Freedom 2014 (“Walk”) was to take place at 10:30 am on 16 Oct 2014.  The Bar Council Secretariat was abuzz with activity immediately after the Bar’s recent biennial International Malaysia Law Conference 2014 held from 24 to 26 Sept 2014, as the Bar Council’s planning team as well as the Secretariat staff made extensive preparations for the Walk. 


On the momentous day, there was an air of palpable excitement as Secretariat staff, volunteer marshals (who comprised Members of the Bar), representatives of civil society, and above all, a throng of lawyers in their customary chamber attire, began gathering and mingling at the Padang Merbok car park off Jalan Parlimen in Kuala Lumpur from as early as 9:30 am.

Secretariat staff enthusiastically handed out bottles of water, and caps, badges, placards and banners produced for the Walk, which proclaimed the taglines “#MansuhAktaHasutan” and “#RepealSeditionAct” and spotlighted the Walk.  


At approximately 10:40 am, Christopher Leong, President of the Malaysian Bar, took to the stage with words of inspiration, rousing and reminding the crowd about the purpose of the Walk, and its significance both today and for future generations.  He thanked the participants for having turned up in significant numbers to voice their opposition against the Act and to support the Bar’s initiative in organising the Walk.

Syahredzan Johan, Chairperson of the National Young Lawyers Committee and organiser of the Bar’s #Mansuh Akta Hasutan campaign, and Firdaus Husni, Chairperson of the Constitutional Law Committee, in their individual addresses, delineated how the archaic Act, which was put in place during colonial times, and which has served to stifle the growth of democracy in the country, should have been removed from the laws of the nation many decades ago.  

Steven Thiru, Vice-President of the Malaysian Bar, next reminded the crowd how Malaysians are now living in a climate of fear due to the Act.  Ravinder Singh Dhalliwal, the Kuala Lumpur Bar’s Representative to the Bar Council, further fired up the crowd with his thundering voice, repeatedly asking, “If there is something wrong with Malaysian law, who do you look for?!” and the crowd consistently and heartily replied, “Malaysian Bar!”

After impassioned speeches from Richard Wee Thiam Seng, Secretary of the Malaysian Bar, Karen Cheah Yee Lynn, Treasurer of the Malaysian Bar, and Andrew Khoo Chin Hock, Co-Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee, Christopher Leong once again took to the stage to inspire the crowd one last time by leading in a recitation of the preamble and tenets of Rukunegara. 


By 11:15 am, the crowd of lawyers had swelled to approximately 1,000 individuals, with many non-lawyers in plain clothes also visible in the assembly.  

The historic moment that everyone had been looking forward to, began to unfold at 11:35 am.  The frontliners — Christopher Leong, Steven Thiru, Richard Wee Thiam Seng, Karen Cheah Yee Lynn, Syahredzan Johan, Andrew Khoo, and Honey Tan — led the approximately 2,000-strong crowd consisting of lawyers, civil society representatives including members of the Orang Asli community, writers and artistes against the Act, and likely some members of the public as well, towards the Malaysian Parliament.  Ravinder Singh Dhalliwal and Avinder Singh marched alongside as the proud banner bearers.


Spotted in the procession were Adam Adli, student activist; Haris Ibrahim, activist; Kee Thuan Chye, actor and dramatist; and even activist “Auntie Bersih”!


Observers from various foreign bar associations and the diplomatic corps in Malaysia1 stood apart from the main gathering, visible in their bright blue vests.

Throughout the speeches and Walk, there were the continuous mantras of “Mansuh, Mansuh, Akta Hasutan!”, and “Hidup, Hidup, Rakyat Malaysia!” being chanted.  A segment of the crowd, including Syahredzan Johan, sang patriotic songs to continue to drum up the spirits of the crowd.  Banners and placards calling for the repeal of the Act were present throughout, and as the participants walked towards Parliament, they drew cheers and honks of support from drivers moving along the route. 



The slow but steady march to the Parliament was facilitated by the presence of the police and the Bar Council-appointed marshals, who ensured the crowd kept to the pavements, and the efforts of traffic police who helped control the traffic flow and ensure the safety of the participants.


At 11:55 am, the leaders spearheading the Walk reached the designated spot, a few hundred metres before the Parliament building.  Ten representatives from the Malaysian Bar — including the seven previously mentioned frontliners — were allowed through the police barricade to deliver the Bar’s “Open Memorandum to the Prime Minister: Towards a Peaceful, United and Harmonious Malaysia”.

While waiting for the representatives, the participants braved the heat, keeping the cheery atmosphere alive by snapping photos, singing the national anthem, and even chanting “Merdeka!” 




At 1:00 pm, the representatives finally returned to cheers from the crowd, as Christopher Leong proudly announced that the goal of the Walk had been achieved, and that the Memorandum had been submitted to Dato’ Mah Siew Keong, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, who accepted the Memorandum on behalf of the Prime Minister.  The President also informed that Dato’ Mah Siew Keong had assured the Bar that the suggestions put forward in the Memorandum would be considered. 

Christopher Leong acknowledged the professionalism of the Royal Malaysia Police, and thanked them for a fantastic job.  

Syahredzan Johan promised that the Walk was just the beginning of the campaign to repeal the Act, and that the fight against the Act would not end until the Act is finally abolished!

With those closing remarks, the crowd dispersed after what had been an eventful and gratifying morning of involvement in support of the rule of law and human rights.


In the run-up to the Walk for Peace and Freedom, the Malaysian Bar received an unprecedented number of statements of support, particularly from foreign bar associations and law societies, as listed below.

Statements of support from foreign bar associations and law societies 

(1) American Bar Association (statement dated 15 Oct 2014)

(2) Australian Bar Association (press release dated 27 Oct 2014)

(3) Bar Association of India (press release dated 15 Oct 2014)

(4) Bar Association of Sri Lanka (press release dated 13 Oct 2014)

(7) International Commission of Jurists (press release dated 15 Oct 2014)

(8) Korean Bar Association (press release dated 13 Oct 2014)

(10) Law Council of Australia (press release dated 15 Oct 2014)

(11) Law Society of England and Wales (press release dated 10 Oct 2014)

(12) Law Society of South Africa (press release dated 16 Oct 2014)

(13) Nepal Bar Association (press release dated 10 Oct 2014)

(14) New Zealand Law Society (press release dated 15 Oct 2014)

(15) Taiwan Bar Association (press release dated 18 Oct 2014)

(16) Union Internationale des Avocats (press release dated 15 Oct 2014)

(17) Union of Turkish Bar Associations (letter to the Prime Minister of Malaysia dated 5 Nov 2014)

Statements of support from other organisations

(18) Organisers of the Regional Conference on Media and Internet Freedom (press release dated 16 Oct 2014)

The observers included representatives from Commonwealth Lawyers Association, LAWASIA, Law Council of Australia, Law Society of England and Wales, Union Internationale des Avocats, International Commission of Jurists, British High Commission, Delegation of the European Union, Embassy of Norway, Embassy of the USA and High Commission of Canada.
 Source: Malaysian Bar Website

1 comment:

Hakimi Abdul Jabar said...


The very same judge, NH Chan (former JCA) who decided upon the landmark issue of sedition has written a very enlightening prelude & article here :


The highly persuasive authority of the Privy Council in Hector v. Attorney-General of Antigua and Barbuda (1990) 2 AC 312 (Judicial Committee of the Privy Council) :

Importance of Freedom of Expression

The Court emphasised the importance of freedom of expression in a democratic system :

In a free democratic society it is almost too obvious to need stating that those who hold office in government and who are responsible for public administration must always be open to criticism. Any attempt to stifle or fetter such criticism amounts to censorship of the most insidious and objectionable kind.


The reasonings given above are highly definitive.