As previously mentioned in an article in our Merdeka article (read that line again), the British administration left us with many helpful foundations upon which we built our legal and administrative system. One of the gems they left behind was the Sedition Act of 1948 which has seen a lot of use in the past few weeks.
From a 17-year old student who allegedly liked an “I Love Israel” page on the Facebooks to a UM professor who gave his professional opinion that someone didn’t agree with to a Malaysiakini reporter who…well, reported the news, the surge in sedition charges are already drawing claims of an Ops Lalang 2 by the government to silence those with opposing views (Click here for Ops Lalang).
So here’s your SENANG-SHEET (patent pending) for the Sedition Act
3. (1) A “seditious tendency” is a tendency—
(a) to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against any Ruler or against any Government;
Which means: To make people hate or be dissatisfied with the Ruler or Government
(b) to excite the subjects of any Ruler or the inhabitants of any territory governed by any Government to attempt to procure in the territory of the Ruler or governed by the Government, the alteration, otherwise than by lawful means, of any matter as by law established;
Which means: To take the law into their own hands to make change.
(c) to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the administration of justice in Malaysia or in any State;
Which means: To make people tak puas hati with our justice system
(d) to raise discontent or disaffection amongst the subjects of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or of the Ruler of any State or amongst the inhabitants of Malaysia or of any State;
Which means: To make Malaysians feel discontent and/or tak shiok
(e) to promote feelings of ill will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Malaysia;
Which means: To make you prejudiced against or hate other races or social classes.
(f) to question any matter, right, status, position, privilege, sovereignty or prerogative established or protected by the provisions of Part III of the Federal Constitution or Article 152, 153 or 181 of the Federal Constitution.
Which means: To question the social contract
If you’re like us, your brain is probably doing this:
Because we aren’t too familiar with this topic, we consulted our favorite ponytailed lawyer Fahri Azzat of Loyarburok and another lawyer who prefers to remain anonymous.
As it turns out it’s not the act of sedition that’s criminalized, but rather an act that has seditious tendency. What this means is that a person can be prosecuted for the likelihood that their words or actions are seditious.
To further elaborate, an article in the news (for example) doesn’t have to cause seditious acts but the author can still be prosecuted on the basis because it was likely to. And what this means is that almost article can be potentially seditious.
To demonstrate, we’ve randomly (lies) taken seven reports off online news sources and we’re gonna see which of the provisions they may possibly violate using good ol’ fashioned pen and paper. We’re leaving out opinions and editorials cause, well, too easy. We’re also using a pleasant aquamarine color because red is for more serious stuff. I guess you could say we chose to be insightful rather than incite-ful. Hur hur.
Click on the header images to link to the articles!
Ready? Let’s get seditious!
No, wait, no. Don’t get seditious.
1. This article about A&W closing is seditious on 1 count!
Reading the report on the closing of the A&W outlet in PJ has caused Petaling Jaya residents to be saddened and provoked enough to ask for it to be preserved as a landmark. For further proof of how the rakyat feels, the top two percentages on the “how do you feel” meter is a dead giveaway. [1(d)]
2. This Dengue article is seditious on 2 counts!
The title of the article itself already makes the MBPJ, an authority under the Selangor state government, look bad. The article is chock-full of negative comments on the MBPJ’s effectiveness in handling the rise in Dengue cases and provides cause for the rakyat to be worried, dissatisfied and/or aggravated [1(d)].
The constant complaints against the MBPJ could result in anger or mistrust of the government [1(a)].
3. This tattoo article is seditious on 2 counts!
This might cause some form of distress among readers of Dayak origin. [1(d)]
Considering that the Malaysian armed forces are the ones doing the recruiting, we can safely assume they are the ones being referred to here. [1(a)]
4. This article about a cameraman kena hentam is seditious on 2 counts!
While this might attract some argument over the rights to a family’s privacy versus the cameraman doing his job, we are going to bypass that issue and point out that this report might inspire others who are in similar situations to take matters into their own hands instead of calling the relevant authorities. [1 (b)]
The cameraman is identified by a Malay name, and while the picture blurs out the faces of the other party the video embedded in the news article does not. This may lead to some prejudice between the two races involved in the incident, as well as negative impressions of the press and cameramen. [1(e)]
5. This article about KL soup kitchens is seditious on 3 counts!
This statement might give the message that it’s okay to defy the authorities because a person thinks they’re doing the right thing. [1(b)]
This statement reinforces the idea that the elected government official isn’t well-accepted by his rakyat and becomes a target for further dislike and mistrust. [1(a)]
This might give a prejudiced view of local males above the age of 50 who might happen to be resting against a sidewalk and be mistaken for being lazy and homeless [1(e)]. The statement on tourists might also affect how we interact with visitors to our country, which will end up negatively affecting the tourism industry.
6. This article on Indian gangs is seditious on 5 counts!
The first line implies that the Chinese are responsible for originating the gangsterism problem, and that many Malaysian Chinese descend from gangsters. The second line implies that Indians are responsible for the current gangsterism problem. This might lead to feelings of distrust or caution. [1(e)]
This questions the social contract and might also cause other races to be jealous or dengki of the Malays. [1(e) & 1(f)]
This may cause Indian readers to feel slighted or wronged. It may also cause readers to form a view that the government is prejudiced, leading to discontentment. [1(d) & 1(a)]
This puts the police force and local politicians in a bad light, possibly leading to strong negative judgement during the next election. [1(a)]
Casting doubt on our justice system might instigate others to take the law into their own hands if they feel that they cannot find justice within our legal system. [1(c)]
7. CILISOS is seditious!
Promoting the idea that most Malaysian policemen are inefficient and self-serving only perpetuates the mistrust of our lawkeepers and, by extension, our government. [1(a) & 1(e)]
These were actually brought up by readers on our Facebook comment thread.
That pretty much deserves a [1(e)]. This CILISOS site is terrible. Tsk.
We know some of our smarter-Aleck’d readers (Hello Marcus!) would point out that this article in itself is seditious, so we’ll say it first. Hah!
But in all seriousness though, the Sedition Act does contain exemptions, like (totally our paraphrasing. If you want to read the actual one, click here) if the words, actions, etc. are said or done to show that a Ruler has been misled or mistaken and/or with the intention of remedying something. However, 1(f) is exempted from this exemption.
Of course, we also expect some readers out there to think that we are forcing the perspectives in the above articles. And the answer is yes. We totally admit to doing so.
P.S. : We have always been about pointing out stuff going on in our country which can hopefully be fixed so that sort of makes this less seditious right? Right?