It is regrettable that a sedition probe has been opened on a forum discussing the Rome Statute recently according to Inspector General of Police Mohammad Fuzi Harun.
Those who participated in the said forum were obviously there to debate the issue in a matured and rational manner and could not have had any intention to disrupt the peace in any way.
I note the Attorney General was also present as a speaker and shared his views on the matter together with other notable personalities such as constitutional expert Shad Saleem Faruqi.
Will Fuzi be hauling up the AG for questioning with a view to charging him under the Sedition Act, 1948?
Free speech is one of the most important of basic rights in any society and the continued use of the Sedition Act is a blatant disregard of that right, more so in a situation in which a healthy debate was held with reference to various sound sources of information such as the Federal Constitution and case laws.
The government should be encouraging such debates and free speech instead of instilling fear by threatening the use of the Sedition Act on those who support or criticise the Rome Statute.
I cannot see how any of the participants of the said forum has committed any offence. If they have, then students in university may also suffer the same fate for studying and debating the said statute if they touch on issues deemed sensitive by some.
I am of the view that this is one of the instances which shows how the Sedition Act can be abused which was why its repeal was one of the promises of the PH government before GE14.
It is hoped that the government seriously considers abolishing the said Act to avoid further restrictions on genuine freedom of speech in the future.