Public Forum: “Section 114A Evidence Act: Crime-busting or Online Control?”

On 12 June 2012, a public forum was organized by the Centre for Independent Journalism to discuss Section 114A and raise public awareness about the dangers that the amendment poses to Internet freedom. The forum was made up of four panelists, Foong Cheng Leong, Jac sm Kee, Jeff Sandhu, and A. Asohan, who thoroughly discussed different elements of the Act.

Foong Cheng Leong, a KL Bar IT committee co-chairman and a member of the Bar Council Intellectual Property Committee, discussed the legal implications of the law, emphasizing how easy it would be to convict someone of libelous or seditious comments, with what would now seem to be unsubstantial evidence. He explained how the amendment was passed swiftly with very little debate in Parliament.

Jeff Sandhu, the producer for radio station BFM 89.9, elaborated how easy it is for a person to be impersonated online, giving examples of the many different platforms available. For example, he cited Facebook as a common and widely used social media tool where people will be held responsible for their posts, having to prove themselves innocent if they are not the genuine publishers. He verbalized his strong position against the act, encouraging everyone to sign the petition.

A. Asohan, founder of Digital News Asia, a technology news portal, eloquently discussed the potential harm that this would pose to online businesses.

Jac sm Kee, a feminist activist who focuses on Internet rights, feminism and sexuality, reiterated the need for anonymity on the Internet for safety reasons. She was appalled at how the justices system was so easily turned onto its head, as this amendment presumes guilty until proven innocent.

CIJ also premiered a Public Service Announcement video on the effects of the amendment.

You can also watch clips from the forum by visiting this link.