PETALING JAYA: Hollywood couple George (pix) and Amal Clooney alongside several civil rights groups have urged the Unity Government led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to fulfill its past promise to repeal the colonial-era Sedition Act 1948.

A joint letter outlined the demands of nine organisations to Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reforms) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

The Vibes reported that the groups described the act as violating international standards on the rule of law and freedom of expression.

“Courts and legislatures around the world have recently struck down or repealed this archaic, colonial handover. But, in Malaysia, it remains on the books and indeed is still being used.

“(This is) despite pledges by Pakatan Harapan as well as previous governments to repeal or reform the law,” the letter sighted to the news portal said.

Meanwhile, the groups highlighted the case of preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin, who was charged under the act a decade ago for making seditious remarks against the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah.

“Wan Ji’s case is a reminder that successive Malaysian governments have broken their promises to repeal (the Sedition Act), which has primarily been used to suppress political dissent and restrict press freedom online,” the letter read.

Wan Ji, in July 2019 was sentenced to a one-year jail term by the Shah Alam High Court for seditious remarks against Sultan Sharafuddin in a Facebook post in 2012.

It is understood that the court, however, allowed his application for a stay of sentence pending his appeal at the appellate court, which is still ongoing.

Similarly, the letter has also referenced former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who led the then Barisan Nasional (BN) government, had on a repeated note pledged to abolish the law.

Prior to coming in power, Anwar during the 14th and 15th general elections manifesto had stated that one of its priorities should the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition come into power would be to review and repeal the “draconian provisions” of several laws, including the Sedition Act.

However, in March, Azalina’s deputy Ramkarpal Singh had said that the government does not plan to abolish the Sedition Act for the time being.

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