Putrajaya wielding multimedia law to police dissent, says Suaram

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Source: The Malaysian Insight

Suaram launched its Human Right Overview 2017 Report at Kuala Lumpur And Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall today. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Nazir Sufari, December 7, 2017

AUTHORITIES are using a multimedia law much more this past year as it has a wider latitude over the sedition act, rights group Suaram said today.

The number of cases filed under Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA) jumped to 249 over nine under the sedition act which was widely used in the Najib government’s first term.

This was the finding of Suaram’s Human Rights Report 2017 Overview, which was launched at Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall today.

According to the report, the use of the Sedition Act reduced significantly with just nine cases in 2017, while there were 269 cases investigated under CMA between January and September 30 this year.

Of this, 146 cases were investigated under Section 233 of CMA with 56 investigation papers submitted to the Attorney-General’s Chamber

The Suaram report cited a Parliamentary reply by Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Jailani Johari dated November 6.

Suaram programme coordinator Dobby Chew said: “The Sedition Act is now used for specific cases.

“They shifted to CMA where the law is wide and can be interpreted for everything on anything. It makes prosecution easier,” said Chew.

Meanwhile, the report stated detention without trial remained a concern.

“From the replies in Parliament, we learnt more than 989 persons have been arrested and detained under Sosma (Security Offences (Special Measures) Act) since its inception in April 2012.

“More shocking is the revelation more than 159 minors have been detained under security provisions. There are 142 minors detained under Poca (Prevention of Crime Act) and 17 under Sosma,” stated the report.

It also showed there has been a notable improvement on freedom of assembly, with less severe crackdown and harassment against peaceful assemblies and the organisers.

The report also touched on freedom of movement which had extended beyond disallowing Malaysian activists from leaving the country to barring non-Malaysian activists from entering.

“Han Hui Hui, a prominent activist from Singapore was denied entry. Others include Adilur Rahman Khan, a prominent human rights lawyer and secretary of Odhikar which is a human rights organisation in Bangladesh and the Philippines Commissioner of Human Rights Chito Gascon,” it said.

The report also said Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) had a year of recovery following the financial restrictions imposed on it in 2016 and also with newly appointed commissioners.

“Suhakam was able to resume its operation at full capacity after the restoration of its budget.

“Unfortunately, this did not bring substantive changes in the recognition of Suhakam’s role and contribution by the government.

“Parliament continues with its unenviable record of not debating Suhakam’s annual report and findings,” it said.

Other matters in the report are pertaining to freedom of religion, free and fair elections, gender and sexuality, indigenous peoples of Malaysia, refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia and the death penalty. – December 7, 2017.