Malaysia toughens sedition law to include online media ban

2015-04-10 10:04
(Roslan Rahman, AFP)

(Roslan Rahman, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia has strengthened its controversial sedition law, imposing a minimum jail term of three years and allowing the government to block online media deemed to be seditious, lawmakers said on Friday.

The toughening of the Sedition Act, which dates back to British colonial rule, comes after a crackdown in which scores of people have been detained under the law in recent weeks since opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was jailed in February on sodomy charges.

The latest amendments to the law passed through parliament after more than 12 hours of debate that dragged into the early hours of Friday. The changes drew criticism at home and abroad, including from the United Nations.

Under the new law, the government can block electronic media that is deemed to be seditious, extending its reach into Malaysia's largely uncontrolled online media landscape.

Last month, authorities arrested editors from an online news portal for sedition, sparking outcry over the wide usage of the law.

Harsher penalties for those convicted under the amended law include the removal of a fine of up to $1 371 and a possible jail term of three years, to be replaced by a mandatory jail term of between three and seven years, said deputy home affairs minister Wan Junaidi Tuaku Jaafar.

Despite the harsher punishment, criticism of the government or the judiciary will no longer be regarded as seditious, Wan Junaidi said.

Courts will also determine whether a person charged under the act can be released on bail, although suspects can be prevented from leaving the country.

Earlier this week, Malaysia passed an anti-terrorism bill allowing for the reintroduction of detention without trial, which had been removed under Prime Minister Najib Razak's ambitious reform agenda in 2012.

The Sedition Act was one of a series of laws that were meant to be repealed. However, Najib held back after disastrous election results in 2013 and the law has since been used against opposition politicians, journalists, academics and activists.

"You have to bear in mind that circumstances change. From time to time, we need to re-evaluate things," Najib said late on Thursday.

The government move to toughen the Sedition Act further was criticised by opposition politicians and rights groups, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

"It is very disappointing that the Malaysian Government is now proposing to make a bad law worse," Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein in a statement before the parliament vote.

Read more on:    najib razak  |  malaysia  |  media

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.