State Dept. on Malaysia’s Sedition Act Amendments

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, D.C.
April 14, 2015

STATEMENT BY MARIE HARF, ACTING SPOKESPERSON
Malaysia’s Sedition Act Amendments

The United States notes the April 10 passage of amendments to Malaysia’s Sedition Act, and we reiterate our concern about restrictions on freedom of expression in Malaysia.

We welcome the decision to remove provisions outlawing criticism of the government and the judiciary, and we hope the Government of Malaysia will therefore reconsider recent sedition charges brought under those now-defunct sections of the law.

Other aspects of the Sedition Act amendments, however, threaten to restrict unduly speech and public discourse. Particularly worrying are new provisions that increase penalties—including for first-time offenders—and could make sharing allegedly seditious material on social media a crime.

The public debate of ideas can be among the best protections against intolerance and can play a positive role in strengthening democracy and combating hatred.