KUALA LUMPUR — The prosecution yesterday withdrew its two sedition cases against Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) politician S. Arulchelvan and human rights lawyer Eric Paulsen.
Judge Edwin Paramjothy Michael Muniandy made the order after Deputy Public Prosecutor Norinna Bahadun informed the court that the prosecution would like to withdraw the charges against the two.
Arul was charged on Nov 23, 2015 with sedition over his Feb 10 statement calling the Federal Court’s decision to uphold Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s conviction in his second sodomy case a “political judgement”.
The charge, under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act, provides for a maximum fine of RM5,000 or a maximum jail term of three years, or both, for
Arul had also claimed trial to an alternative charge under Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for allegedly posting a statement on Facebook with the intention to injure the feelings of others.
The offence is punishable with a maximum fine of RM50,000 or a maximum one-year jail term or both.
Paulsen was charged on Feb 5, 2015 under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act over a tweet accusing the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) of promoting extremism.
Lawyers New Sin Yew represented Arul and Latheefa Koya represented Paulsen respectively.
Paulsen told reporters later there was no reason for the government to retain the colonial-era Sedition Act 1948.
“It is Malaysia Baru, but the Sedition Act we all have is 1948, that is a pre-Merdeka, colonial law that was used against independence fighters in Malaya and Singapore, so there’s no reason for this cruel law to be continued today,” he said.
He noted the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition’s promised in its manifesto to abolish the law.
However, he said no investigations should be carried out now as it would go against government policy to scrap the law as promised, adding that all sedition cases in court should be dropped.
He said a Bill to repeal the Sedition Act should be tabled in Parliament.
Latheefa said there were other pending sedition cases in court and urged the federal government to keep its promise of abolishing the Sedition Act.
“This is not going to end so fast, while we are definitely happy that there’s progress, but it’s not enough,” she said.
“This is about freedom of expression and freedom of speech and we will continue. If we can speak out during BN’s time, we don’t see why we should stop now.”
Paulsen said: “I hope the government and people in power right now listen because I don’t think people will wait for another 60 years this time around.”
Arul thanked his lawyer who provided his services for free, noting that New had to forego his Chinese New Year reunion dinner when Arul was called in for investigations in February 2015.
Arul also urged for the Sedition Act to be abolished and for a moratorium on investigations under the British-era law, telling reporters: “It needs to be repealed, no more investigations under the sedition law.”