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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Keeping them worms canned

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Or, put another way, why a certain Pandora’s Box shouldn’t be opened. Ever.

Confused? Well, here’s what Walski’s talking about:

Charles is not the only one who thinks so. Aisehman, Zorro, and numerous others are thinking the along same lines.

Yes, they should be charged – no frickin’ doubt about it. But charging them under either the Sedition Act [Section 4(1)] or for Illegal Assembly (under the Police Act) is not doing anyone any favors.

Walski thinks that it’ll just be opening up a can of worms – and if you’ve ever opened one before, you’ll know how impossible it is to herd ‘em back and re-can them. 
(why charging them with sedition is not a good idea, and more, in the full post)

Herding cats would probably be easier, all things considered.

Don’t forget – civil law has this concept called precedence. If they’re convicted under either one (Sedition or Police Acts), we can forget about peaceful demonstrations. If this thing goes through, then everybody can get charged with sedition. Or at least that’s the concern most people have.

Walski has another angle – charging them under Section 4(1) is a good way to get ‘em in court, then get them acquitted. Or, at least, the ones parading, and spitting/stepping on the head of the martyred cow.

Here’s what Section 4(1) says:

4. (1) Any person who—

(a) does or attempts to do, or makes any preparation to do, or conspires with any person to do, any act which has or which would, if done, have a seditious tendency;
(b) utters any seditious words;
(c) prints, publishes, sells, offers for sale, distributes or reproduces any seditious publication; or
(d) imports any seditious publication,

shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable for a first offence to a fine not exceeding five thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both, and, for a subsequent offence, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; and any seditious publication found in the possession of the person or used in evidence at his trial shall be forfeited and may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of as the court directs.

(source: Sedition Act [1948])

Section 3 of the act has a long, drawn description of what constitutes sedition. In essence, it’s any act (or speech/publication) that incites disaffection for the State, or the Rulers (imperial and metric – ok, just kidding), or that questions certain constitutional provisions. See pages 5 – 7 of the act.

Now, Walski’s not a lawyer, but a layperson’s reading of Section 3 would indicate that while the protesters were really pissed off with the Selangor state government, they weren’t making calls to overthrow it. Or any government for that mater. At least, Walski doesn’t think so.

So, his theory is that charge the cow-head bearers/steppers/spitters with something that don’t quite fit, and there’s a good case for acquittal. Lawyers reading this, your learned comments, please.

As for charging all of them for Illegal Assembly, Charles Hector probably said it best in his blog posting (emphasis by myAsylum):

By not charging them just under section 298 and/or 298A of the Penal Code - I wonder what is the message that the government is sending...

It seems to be that old message that they are AGAINST the freedom of assembly, freedom of expression...

(source: Charles Hector's blog)

In any case, Walski echoes what many folks think – charging them with anything other than section 298 or 298A of the Penal Code is not a good idea.

Call it what you want – can of worms, or Pandora’s Box – opening it will be something we’ll live to regret for a good while to come.

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