The Stop 114A Team Goes to Parliament!
On 25 June 2012, the CIJ team waited at the steps of Parliament for their scheduled meeting to present Law Minister Nazri Aziz with the Stop 114A petition. By that date, CIJ collected more than 3,200 signatures in support of the campaign. We were hopeful that it was enough to convince the Minister to at least consider repealing the ill-thought amendment. But shortly after arriving at Parliament, we were informed that the Minister was unavailable and the handover had to be postponed.
We rescheduled the handover to take place on the following day, but instead of meeting with Nazri, we would be meeting with de facto Deputy Law Minister VK Liew.
On 26 June, three supporters of the Stop 114A campaign–Jac Kee, Asohan Aryaduray, and Foong Cheng Leong–spoke with VK Liew on CIJ’s behalf. The meeting was held in front of members of the press in the Parliament lobby. Referring to various issues raised by those who attended the public forum on Section 114A, the CIJ representatives outlined key concerns about the amendment with the Deputy Law Minister. They noted that the vague amendment would generate a sense of fear in average Internet users that would have a “chilling effect” on free expression online. They also stressed that it was the Government’s duty to protect the universal human right to freedom of expression, especially in light of Malaysia’s membership in the Human Rights Council.
VK Liew trivialized concerns about the amendment’s effect on the presumption of innocence and freedom of expression by calling them “misplaced fears” founded on misunderstandings of law. He was, however, more receptive to concerns about the amendment’s negative impact on local businesses. In spite his defense of Section 114a, the Deputy Law Minister conceded that he did not consider the economic consequences of the amendment.
The petition was then handed over to the Deputy Law Minister along with a memorandum and CIJ’s most recent annual report on freedom of expression in Malaysia.