Statement on Section 203A of the Penal Code and Amendments to the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA)
BERSIH 2.0 is gravely concerned over the effects of recently-passed and upcoming legislation on the increasingly fragile human rights situation in Malaysia. Yesterday, Section 203A of the Penal Code was passed by Dewan Rakyat, despite strenuous objection over the broad nature of its wording and its effect on the fight against corruption. The new section effectively penalises whistleblowers who expose corruption and government misconduct, all of which are clearly matters of public interest, while protecting wrongdoers under legislatively mandated secrecy.
Today, yet another draconian bill is set to be rammed through Parliament in the same manner. This bill seeks to extend the scope of to the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) by bringing offences under Chapters VI, VIA and VIB of the Penal Code and anti-trafficking laws into the ambit of special security offences.
We view with repugnance the manner in which such bills that curtail fundamental freedoms are being rushed through Parliament, without consulting all stakeholders including the citizens whom the Government claim to protect. The conduct of this Government after the 13th General Election goes against all representations made by the Prime Minister that Malaysia is becoming the “best democracy” in the world.
We demand that this Government act responsibly and engage in full consultation with all stakeholders over the recently-passed legislation as well as any upcoming amendments before they are brought into force. We are watching closely as to whether the Government will be following up on the statement by Hajjah Nancy Shukri, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Law, that she is seeking further amendments to Section 203A, recognizing that the provision was too general.
No new law should be made without proper consultation. Anything less will mean that the Government has scant regard for individual freedoms and for the views of the rakyat. It further throws into doubt the Government’s will to fulfill promises made to uphold human rights in this country.
The rakyat is committed to transparency and accountability. Will the Government follow our lead?
BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee
Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0)