The Sedition Act 1948 (Ordinance No.14 of 1948) enacted some 70 years ago by British Malaya was an import from India to control the masses against terrorism and colonial rule. It is a law that prohibits discourse deemed as seditious. This Act was then revised in 1969 (Act 15 of w.e.f 14 April, 1970). This law became operative in Malaya on 19 July 1948 (Ordinance No: 14 of 1948).

It was declared as a law for the Federation of Malaya in 1957 after Malaya gained independence.

This Sedition Act criminalises speech with “seditious tendency” and what is meant by “seditious tendency” is very wide, which includes bringing into hatred or contempt or to excite dissatisfaction against” the government or endanger “feelings or ill-will and hostility between races”. This law is very subjective and very wide and it is almost a “catch all” law that can create much stress among citizens.

There is nothing to prevent the authorities to deem anything done or said as having “seditious tendency”. The authorities can also deem, for example, stepping a photograph of the Prime Minister in public, flying any old Sarawak crown flag or hanging the Malaysia flag upside down as having “seditious tendency”.
The law was extended to Sabah and Sarawak some years after Sabah and Sarawak became part of Malaysia in 1963 through the Malaysia Agreement Act 1963 (MA63). The extension of the Sedition Act 1948 to Sabah and Sarawak was made possible by Order in Council/proclamation on consent of the Agong.
The main issue put forward by many legal experts is that without a valid MA63, although formed Malaysia could not be a valid federation and without a valid Malaysia. What these legal experts tried to point out is that, if MA63 was not a valid Treaty, Malaysia, could not be formed or be in existence at all.
If the federation of Malaysia is invalid, it is opined that no sedition and security laws passed by the Parliament of Malaysia will have any legal effect against the people of Sabah and Sarawak, but, only against the people of the Federation of Malaya.

Such laws could have effect against the people of the federation of Malaya because Malaysia is Malaya and Malaya is Malaysia after Malaya changed its name from Malaya to Malaysia on 16 September, 1963. The change of name from Malaya to Malaysia was upon the notification by the federation of Malaya to the United Nations by Dato’ Ong Yoke Lin as Permanent Secretary of the Federation of Malaya to the United Nations.

It is opined that MA63 Treaty signed between the Federation of Malaya and Britain with Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak, is not a valid treaty. The making of MA63 according to many legal experts is that Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak, being colonies of Britain were not in the same legal capacity with Britain and Malaya at the time MA63 Treaty was signed. What could be gathered from the recent advisory opinion of the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered on 25 February, 2019 is that when there is no equal capacity between countries, a treaty entered into is void and unenforceable as if the treaty had never been in existence or signed at all.

If Malaysia should not be in existence, there could not be a Malaysian Federal Constitution. Therefore, any curtailment of freedom of speech by Article 10(2) Federal Constitution or by any law like the Sedition Act 1948 or any succeeding law to the Sedition Act 1948 should be inapplicable against Sabahans and Sarawakians.

This is simply to say, there is no subject matter that could become seditious when Sabah and Sarawak could not be part of Malaysia.
It is further argued by many legal experts that taking consideration that the Malaysia is a federation and not a country, the sedition law also could not apply against citizens of Sabah and Sarawak because sedition laws could only apply against citizens of own country and not against citizens of other countries. In the Malaysian federal constitution, nothing is said that Malaysia is a country, but, a federation. Sabah and Sarawak were countries of their own when they helped formed Malaysia and therefore, at most, the sedition laws could only be applicable against Malayans.

By intending to repeal and replacing the Sedition Act 1948, the PH government is therefore, aware the Sedition Act 1948 is unenforceable against peoples of Sabah and Sarawak. To replace the Sedition Act 1948 clearly shows that PH government knows the Sedition Act 1948 could not, caused by the defects in MA63 for formation of Malaysia, be applied against Sabahans and Sarawak.

A new law in replacement for the current Sedition Act 1948 shows that the PH government has the intention to deny Sabahans and Sarawakians to voice their right to decolonize and to exit from Malaysia as allowed under United Nations Resolutions 1514 and 1541.

The voice to exit is louder each day because people of Sabah and Sarawak are quite fed up of the loss of their revenues to the federal coffer. It is roughly estimated by people in the street that Sarawak is losing about one billion ringgit every day to Malaya from various revenues collected.

Such a repressive law will be against international law because international law does not prohibit secession from a federation. International law presumes that a right to exit is a corollary right to free association. This was also clearly mentioned by Lord Lansdowne, Chairman of Inter-Governmental Committee in the formation of Malaysia as saying, “any state voluntarily entering a federation had an intrinsic right to secede at will .”

By having such a law also shows that Malaysia is not free and a voluntary union because by trying to seal the voice of Sabahans and Sarawakians speaking on exit is to deny their right to self-determination under international law. Such a law in present times is against democracy and works towards tyranny and dictatorship.

Even if Malaysia had been properly formed in accordance with international law, the Sedition Act 1948 which was extended to Sarawak under the Emergency Ordinance, could not more be applicable to Sarawak after the previous BN government under Dato Sri Najib had lifted or repealed the Emergency Ordinance.

It is noted that public had since many years ago gathered for 722 Independence rally and also spoke about independence issues and all are incident free. There had been no instances of any hatred against any community and also no hatred against the federation of Malaya. Those who spoke were only educating the public of their legal right about self-determination and right of colonies or oppressed people to gain independence under international law.
Sedition law should not therefore be used to restrict freedom of speech and liberty of people of Sabah and Sarawak.

Parti Bumi Kenyalang


Govt mulling new law to replace Sedition Act, says PM

KUALA LUMPUR, July 11 — Putrajaya is looking to repeal the controversial Sedition Act 1948 and replace it with a new law, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

The prime minister said a decision will be made soonest possible.

“We are in the midst of structuring the new law and it will be concluded as soon as possible,” he told a news conference at Parliament.

The Pakatan Harapan government has been under fire for the delay in repealing the archaic law that was recently used to convict and punish Islamic preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussain from PKR over remarks made against the sultan of Selangor seven years ago.
It was the ruling coalition’s GE14 promise.

Yesterday, Dr Mahathir said the government needs to study the suitability of repealing the Sedition Act, after the prime minister was questioned over its delay.

He conceded that his Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had delayed initiatives to repeal the controversial law after promising to do so if it won the general election last year.

Wan Ji, who was found guilty of making seditious remarks against the sultan of Selangor seven years ago, lost his conviction appeal at the High Court in Shah Alam, Selangor on Tuesday,

High Court judge Abdul Halim Aman even raised the preacher’s sentence from nine months to 12.

Social activists and lawmakers, including those within PH, have openly called the government to speed up repealing the British colonial-era law.

Source: MalayMail

#unitednations #MalaysiaAgreement1963 #Sarawak #SeditionAct #WSJ #malaysia #UN #decolonization #MA63

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