KUALA LUMPUR: Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh today urged the courts to adjourn the Sedition Act 1948 cases as the new government plans to review and abolish the Sedition Act.
He said Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had announced that the mandatory death sentence, the Sedition Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, and other legislation seen to be archaic and draconian would be reviewed and probably abolished.
Ramkarpal said in a statement that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) had consistently maintained that the Sedition Act was outdated and was mainly used by the previous Barisan Nasional government as a political tool to stifle dissent.
“There can be no doubt that the said Act is a severe impediment to the right to freedom of speech which is guaranteed under the Federal Constitution and must be completely abolished if the new PH government is serious in its reform agenda.”
He said many cases under the Sedition Act were currently pending in the courts and “it is clear that most, if not all of them, are political in nature”.
“It has always been our stand that those who have been charged under the Sedition Act ought not to have been charged in the first place as the Act ought to be abolished.
“As such, I urge the courts to adjourn those cases pending the review and the ultimate abolishment of the Sedition Act in Parliament since the home ministry has now indicated that there is a real possibility of this happening.”
Ramkarpal said he had proposed the abolition of the death penalty when the previous BN government tabled amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1952 (DDA) in Parliament in November last year and to return the sole discretion of imposing the death penalty or commuting it to the courts.
“I also proposed that the said amendments apply retrospectively to cater for those who have already been convicted and are currently on death row. The said amendments were passed after an intense debate in Parliament but unfortunately did not include my said proposals.”
As a result of the amendments, he said, the public prosecutor must first certify in writing that a convicted person had helped disrupt drug trafficking activities within or outside Malaysia before the court could consider commuting his or her death sentence. The court has no discretion if such certificate is not issued by the public prosecutor.
He said the amendments to the DDA did not apply retrospectively with the result that some 400 people who were convicted before the amendments were passed and who were still on death row were not subject to it and must be hanged. This, he added, was “most unfair as the abolishment ought to apply across the board”.
“In light of Muhyiddin’s confirmation, I will be filing an application to the Federal Court on behalf of one of my clients who is currently on death row for an offence committed under the DDA for his sentence to be stayed pending the very real possibility of the death sentence being abolished in the near future.
“It is hoped that the proposed application will be allowed and applied to all other inmates currently on death row as the death sentence is irreversible and it is only fair for the sentences of these inmates to be reviewed in the event the said mandatory death penalty is abolished.”