Asking Putrajaya for independence not seditious, says lawyer

Voon Lee Shan - file pic

KUCHING, July 29: Is making a representation to Putrajaya by a person or organisation or political parties to ask for independence for Sabah and Sarawak seditious?

Senior lawyer Voon Lee Shan believes such an action is not an offence under the Sedition Act 1948, because it did not amount to inciting dissatisfaction against the government.

“Precedents have been set about this. Politicians, the judiciary and Malaysians at large could not deny that Malaysia’s first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, went to see the British government to seek independence for Malaya, which years later led to the formation of Malaysia,” he said in a statement today.

“Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew also flew to London concerning decolonisation issues before the formation of Malaysia.”

The Sedition Act was introduced by the British colonial government in 1948. It is a pre-Merdeka Act enacted by the British Parliament, and later became a Malaysian law. This legislation bans any act, speech or publication that brings contempt against the government.

It also prohibits people from inciting hatred between different races and religions or questioning the special position of the ethnic Malay majority and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak.

In 2015, it was amended to include an online media ban and mandatory jail.

Voon, who is formerly Batu Lintang assemblyman, opined that the definition of seditious speech did not include materials in writing, unless published for public consumption that could incite hatred and dissatisfaction.

“Likewise, none of our local leaders who were involved in the negotiations for Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) has been charged by the British or Malaysian governments for sedition.

“I am just giving an opinion, but I hope our constitutional and other legal experts will chip in their legal knowledge on this matter,” Voon added.

In addition, there is also no immunity for any Member of Parliament to speak in Parliament.

Voon cited the case of Datuk Mark Koding from Sabah. He was convicted under the Act for uttering seditious words in Parliament. — DayakDaily