G25 welcomes the announcement made by the Attorney General to drop the charge under the Sedition Act against University of Malaya law lecturer, Associate Professor Dr Azmi Sharom. This is a positive move which would help to foster free discourse and academic autonomy and thereby promotes a progressive and democratic society.
We hope that the charges against other activists would also be reviewed and discontinued.
We call for the abolition of the Sedition Act. This archaic law was passed in 1948 during the colonial era. Its purpose was to curb opposition to colonial rule, hence it has outlived its usefulness. The Sedition Act imposes restrictions on freedom of speech that is enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
The Sedition Act should be replaced by a law which promotes national harmony and democratic ideals. What we need is a specific law against the incitement of racial, gender and religious hatred. As for criticism of the Government, it is the right of citizens in a democracy.
Academic freedom is an essential requirement for creating an environment of critical thinking in the university halls and for producing graduates with a broader knowledge of issues of public interest. For this purpose, it is proposed that the government review the restrictions under the Colleges and Universities Act to allow for academic freedom as well as administrative autonomy in our universities.
In our commitment to a just, democratic, peaceful, tolerant and harmonious Malaysia, we are greatly relieved that good sense and justice have prevailed in this case.