Lawyers say no to 'no bail' proposal in amended Sedition Act

Lawyers say no to 'no bail' proposal in amended Sedition Act

PETALING JAYA: Many lawyers are against the proposal to remove bail in the amended Sedition Act.

Former DPP Afifuddin Hafifi said bail should be at the discretion of the court, not the prosecution.

"This is not a capital punishment offence like drug trafficking or murder, so why deny bail?" he asked.

He also said the definition of seditious statement or remark is still vague despite the amendments.

Opposition MP and lawyer N. Surendran said the amendments had a "chilling effect" on freedom of speech and democracy because it had provided a three-year minimum sentence for sedition.

"I am shocked that any democratic government can come up with such a legislation. Also, after the amendments, bail can be denied by the public prosecutor and not the court," he said.

He explained this completely des­troys the presumption of innocence.

Lawyer-MP Teo Nie Ching also disagreed on bail denial.

"The public prosecutor does not need to produce evidence to substantiate his or her claims, and the judge has no discretion to allow bail," she explained.

Lawyer Dr Dheeraj Bhar agreed with Afifuddin on the no-bail offence.

"How can it be that no bail be granted for a charge of sedition? It is basically saying as soon as someone is charged for sedition, they start serving jail time without a trial and a conviction for something incomparable to murder."

On the removal of "the administration of justice" phrase from the act, Dheeraj said this should have never been seditious.

"Any citizen should be allowed to freely express disaffection against the judiciary," he said.

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