Deputy Higher Education Minister Saifuddin Abdullah says the amendment to Section 114A of the Evidence Act may become a threat to the Internet sector.
Syed Jaymal Zahiid, FMT
Deputy Higher Education Minister Saifuddin Abdullah described today the controversial amendment to Section 114A of the Evidence Act as a “hiccup” to Prime Minister Najib Razak’s political transformation programme.
The Umno leader, speaking at a Bar Council forum on the law’s possible threat to internet freedom, said the law was a setback to Najib’s democratic reforms as the Act gives wide prosecution powers to create fear and narrow dissenting space.
Critics of the law claimed the section makes it easy for the government to charge anyone seen “facilitating” what is deemed as criminal comments on the internet even if the comments were made by someone else.
Those supporting the Act argued that the law gives space for the accused to prove innocence although they admit that it does not solve the problem of hacking or fraudulence where criminal comments may be posted by hackers under fake accounts.
“I am a supporter to the prime minister’s transformation programme..I support democratic reforms so I (as a layperson) don’t need this,” he said.
The Malaysian government under the Mahathir administration, in an effort to promote the country’s internet communication technology market, vowed to leave internet free as it aims to draw investments into a sector that makes up 4.1% of GDP.
Saifuddin said the amendment may become a threat to the sector.
Najib said recently that he would continue his predecessor’s legacy by guaranteeing online freedom together with the announcement of a raft of political reforms including the plan to repeal the Sedition Act.
“Its a hiccup. As a layperson I find it hard to explain to the people that this (law) may not lead to internet censorship,” Saifuddin commented.
K Shanmuga, a prominent lawyer and legal activist, speaking at the forum said since the Sedition Act provides arbitrary power to label anything as seditious, the law with the existence of the new internet law would make users indiscriminately liable to the Sedition Act as long as its not repealed.