By Loh Foon Fong | The Star

Various groups are calling for the police to drop its sedition probe against veteran journalist Datuk A. Kadir Jasin over his blogpost on the King’s expenses.

The police, said the Lawyers for Liberty, must act consistent with the reform agenda of the new Pakatan Harapan government, which had promised to review or abolish oppressive laws and provisions under the Sedition Act, the Communications and Multimedia Act and the Penal Code.

“Whoever is affected by the article should respond in a civilised manner and not resort to lodging police reports,” lawyer Latheefa Koya said in a statement yesterday.

“It is also possible for these parties to file civil defamation suits but there is certainly nothing criminal in what he has written.”

On Thursday, PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had hit out at Kadir, saying that what he had written was “inappropriate”.

Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah also urged the police to drop the sedition probe on Kadir, adding that he was merely expressing his opinion on the monarchy.

Maria said one of Pakatan’s key promises in its manifesto was to uphold the freedom of expression.

“This is a very important consideration if we are truly serious about institutional reforms,” she said.

Malaysia, added Maria, was a constitutional monarchy and the rights and importance of the Malay Rulers were already guaranteed in the Federal Constitution.

Malaysian Bar president George Varughese said the Sedition Act is an archaic and repressive law as well as the antithesis of democracy and rule of law.

“The Act has been used to stifle speech and expression, deny democratic space and oppress and suppress Malaysians. The Malaysian Bar condemns the use and continued use of the Act and calls upon the Government to repeal it at the next parliamentary meeting,” he said.

Lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad said besides the Sedition Act, there were other penal laws that could be used against those seeking to create disorder or violence in society.

The exchange of ideas, he said, was needed for the country to move forward and, inevitably, there would be discussions on sensitive issues but the sedition law deterred the public from having discourse on these.

“When you touch on sensitive issues, you will be clamped down with the draconian law. It is time the Sedition Act is repealed.

“What is wrong with discussing sensitive issues when it is to improve an institution, for instance,” he said.

The public should be allowed to express themselves in personal blogs or open forum to enable the exchange of views and ideas, he said.

“Instead of clamping down other views, why not counter the argument?” he pointed out.