The New Zealand Law Society has expressed its support for a planned Walk for Peace and Freedom by Malaysian lawyers protesting against continued use of the Sedition Act 1948 by the Malaysian government.
The Law Society has joined LAWASIA in supporting Malaysian Bar members in advocating for repeal of the Act and in calling for the immediate withdrawal of criminal charges against everyone currently facing prosecutions.
The Law Society’s LAWASIA representative, Ian Haynes, says the Sedition Act is being used by Malaysia to suppress legitimate dissent and to remove freedom of speech.
“From information provided to LAWASIA it is clear that the Act is used selectively. Only people who are seen as critical of the Malaysian government are subjected to investigation and prosecution under its powers,” he says.
“Malaysia’s Prime Minister has promised to repeal the Sedition Act several times since July 2012 but that has never happened. The authorities have continued to use it and people prosecuted have included members of the legal profession.”
Mr Haynes said Malaysian lawyers planned to hold a Peace and Freedom Walk on 16 October to show their opposition to the Sedition Act. This would be a peaceful protest in Kuala Lumpur, with members of the legal profession walking to the Malaysian Parliament.
“The New Zealand Law Society fully supports the actions of Malaysian lawyers and calls on the Malaysian government to honour its promise to repeal what is an archaic and authoritarian piece of legislation,” he says.
The New Zealand Law Society is a member of LAWASIA, which represents lawyers and law associations in Asia and the Pacific. The President and Secretary–General of LAWASIA are travelling to Kuala Lumpur to observe and support the march.
15 Oct 2014