NGO questions AGC’s lack of action on sedition cases

Global Human Rights Federation

KUCHING, Aug 16: The Global Human Rights Federation (GHRF) is questioning the lack of action from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) on sedition cases unless a private prosecution is filed by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or citizens.

According to a statement by GHRF, it was referring to the case of activist Wan Asshima Kamaruddin who was issued a permanent injunction by the High Court of Kuching for inciting the public on religious issues and causing unlawful acts of violence against worshippers of Christianity or other faiths.

GHRF vice-secretary general Peter John Jaban said it was not surprising that Wan Asshimah chose to target Sarawak, which has a non-Muslim majority.

“In Sarawak, we respect our Christian population and allow them to follow their faith in peace and harmony, as enshrined in Article 11 of the Federal Constitution, but sadly this is not being practised here in Malaysia.

“Sixty-one police reports were lodged against Wan Asshimah’s 12-minute inflammatory video statement on March 11, 2021, calling for the closure of all churches in a State which she doesn’t even live in, outraging the Christian community and instigating and provoking the Muslim community to act against Christians,” he said.

For this, he said, it had to take three citizens to file a private prosecution against her, but there was no action from the AGC since March last year.

“Why do NGOs or the concerned public need to raise this matter, using their personal time and resources, to bring up such cases when we have law enforcement agencies who are to act on the matter?

“This private prosecution has taken more than a year while the authorities stood idly by. Why should Sarawakians continue to contribute to these public servants if we are not treated equally under the said judiciary system?” he questioned.

He also called out on the ‘double standard’ that was being practised, referring to the case of Alister Cogia from Singai, who was handed a 10-year jail term and a fine of RM50,000 for uploading offensive materials about Islam on social media in 2019.

In similar circumstances, he said, GHRF president S. Shashi Kumar filed a private prosecution in Dec 2020 against two preachers who allegedly had been attacking all non-Islamic religions in Malaysia.

“But the Magistrate’s court dismissed the case, and the AGC has requested the case be struck out and not prolonged further. An appeal has been filed to the High Court, pending a date for hearing.

“This has sent the message that no justice will be sought in cases of insult or attack of non-Islamic worshippers unless it is pursued privately,” he said.

Peter added that on Aug 3, the AGC claimed they are still studying the remarks by preacher Idris Sulaiman who reprimanded Muslim students for cleaning up other places of worship last December during the massive floods.

“It has been 200 days since police reports were lodged, but the AGC continues to maintain its silence.

“Either we are one nation under one constitution, or we are a divided society, exactly the sort of outcome that the Sedition Act seeks to prevent.

“If Malaysia still aspires to the former, a multi-cultural nation which respects freedom of religion for all its citizens, then it is time for the balance to be redressed.” — DayakDaily