KUALA LUMPUR: Human rights activists say more people will likely be charged under the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) as it is too vague and open to interpretation.
Speaking at the launch of a legal analysis on the Act today, Suaram representative Dobby Chew said about three people were charged every week.
“Some cases are very mundane,” he added.
“How can we protect these people? They can be people on the street, on the bus, writing on Facebook,” he said at the event, which was organised by Article 19, a Malaysian organisation that advocates freedom of expression and information.
Human rights lawyer Firdaus Husni added that the Act was open to interpretation.
“The law must be clear and precise. It should not be against political dissent. It will not encourage freedom of speech and expression.
“In fact, it will bring about selective prosecution,” she said.
Meanwhile, Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights representative Edmond Bon said the government should publish guidelines so that the Act was not open to abuse.
Such guidelines should state when and how the provisions in the Act were applicable, he said.
Also present at the event, held at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, was rights activist Khalid Ismath who is facing 11 charges under the CMA.
The group of people present resolved to ask the government to review the Act, introduce necessary amendments and ensure that it fully complies with international freedom of expression standards.
Key recommendations include a narrow and precise definition of what constitutes “obscene” communication, and a narrowing down of what constitutes “improper use of network or services”.
The group also wants the enforcement mechanism and its powers to be clearly defined.
It says clear criteria must be established on awarding and withdrawing licences, and that proper protection should be provided for legitimate whistleblowing activities and to those involved in journalistic activities.