Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar of Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at the fifth anniversary dinner of Penang DAP held at Halomon Restaurant on Friday, December 17 1971 at 7.30 p.m.
DAP call for repeal of Sedition (Amendment) Act 1970
Penang DAP’s anniversary dinner a year ago made political and legal history and was the subject of the first sedition trial in Malaysia.
The government’s sedition laws are aimed at muzzling and silencing opposition parties, the press and the public. The government hopes that with the sedition laws, it could stifle popular dissent and entrench itself in power.
No democrat and defender of the people’s rights and interests can support such an oppressive measure. It is therefore a matter of public shock that the sedition laws had the support, not only of ruling parties like the UMNO and the MCA, but also of other opposition parties in Parliament, such as Gerakan Ra’ayat Malaysia, Parti Kemas, SNAP, Parti Islam and the SUPP.
The sedition laws, as amended and enlarged last year by the Alliance government, is the most undemocratic and oppressive piece of legislation in the country, and must be opposed by every Malaysian who wants Malaysia to be a land of freedom, equality and justice.
Recently, even the Chief Justice, Tan Sri T. H. Ong, was moved to express the hope that the Sedition (Amendment) Act of 1970 would be removed “when the justification no longer exists for banning fair comment on matters of public interests.”
Chief Justice Tan Sri T. H. Ong was of course being polite. In actual fact, justification had never existed for “banning fair comment on matters of public interests” in Malaysia.
The Rukunegara, drawn up by the Alliance Government, preaches grandiloquently about fostering a democratic way of life in Malaysia, while it passed a law which can only destroy any democratic way of life that exists in the country.
The government has put up barbed wires in Tanah Hitam new village and other adjoining new villages in Perak, and the country is returning to the old Emergency days.
Even more serious, however, than the barbed wires the Alliance Government has fenced off Tanah Hitam New Village and others are the ‘barbed wires’ which it has put up in the hearts and minds of the people of Malaysia, which alienate and antagonize them from the government through its undemocratic, unjust, oppressive political, economic, cultural and social policies.
If the government is to effectively rally the people to its side, it must promise the people a true democratic way of life in the country, where there is political, economic and cultural democracy.
The people will have very little enthusiasm if they are asked to defend a undemocratic, oppressive and totalitarian form of society.
I call on the government therefore, as the first step to win the hearts and minds of the people, to demonstrate its bona fide and sincerity in wanting to build a democratic Malaysia. It should do this by removing the most undemocratic legislation in the country.
I therefore call on the government to repeal the Sedition (Amendment) Act of 1970, so that Malaysians are given back their right to make fair comments on matters of public interest.