Bail can be denied under proposed amendments to Malaysia's Sedition Act

KUALA LUMPUR - Bail can be denied to persons charged under the Sedition Act if proposed amendments to the law are passed.

The Sedition (Amendment) Bill 2015, which was tabled by Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday, seeks to introduce two new sections to the existing act, which will allow for bail to be denied, and prevent an accused from leaving the country.

Under the new Section 5A, anyone charged with sedition may not be released on bail if there is a "certificate in writing" by the Public Prosecutor stating that it is not in the public interest for bail to be granted.

The Bill further states that Section 5A is in line with the proposal to impose a higher penalty for offences related to sedition involving bodily injury and damage to property.

The new Section 5B, meanwhile, seeks to empower the court to prevent an accused, who is released on bail, from leaving the country. This includes ordering the person charged to surrender his travel documents.

"In cases where the person does not hold any travel document, the court may order the Immigration Director-General to refuse the issuance of any travel documents to the person," reads the Bill.

Clause 8 of the Bill, meanwhile, seeks to amend Section 10 of the current Act to empower the court to issue an order to remove seditious publications which are made by electronic means such as online publication.

The Bill also seeks to introduce a new Section 10A which will allow the court to issue an order to an authorised officer under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 to prevent access to such publications if the perpetrator cannot be identified.