Call on the Barisan Nasional government and PDRM to release student activist Adam Adli immediately and to cease arbitrary and selective persecution of student activists and youth leaders

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, in Kuala Lumpur on the 20th of May 2013

On 18 May 2013, student activist Adam Adli was arrested on account of allegedly seditious remarks that he had made. The said remarks were made during a forum organized on 13 May 2013 by Suara Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM), and involved a call for massive street rallies to express unhappiness over the Malaysian electoral system and results of the GE13 elections.[1]

According to SUARAM, the latest update is that Adam Adli has been remanded for 5 days under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act and Section 124B of the Penal Code.[2] Section 4 of the Sedition Act prohibits discourse deemed as seditious and if found guilty under the act, Adam could be jailed for up to 3 years, fined not more than RM 5,000, or both. Adam is currently being kept in lock up at the Jinjang Police Station.

I strongly question the decision to selectively detain Adam Adli in consideration of the fact that many prominent leaders in the Malaysian political and activism scene have similarly expressed their unhappiness at the Malaysian election results along with their support for public rallies, and yet they have not been questioned, detained or charged for these remarks. Neither have the hundreds of thousands of ordinary Malaysians who participated peacefully in the recent ‘Blackout’ rallies been questioned, detained or charged.

It would appear instead that the BN government is selectively persecuting, prosecuting and effectively bullying youth leaders and activists, from Adam Adli to Nik Nazmi. Perhaps the BN government is doing this in the hopes of sending a message to young Malaysians to cease involvement in student activism and youth-led grassroots democracy activities which would appear to challenge the hegemony of its rule.

I contend that this selective harassment puts Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak’s purported record of ‘Political Transformation’ and his desire to have a ‘National Reconciliation’ to great shame. During the GE13 campaign, Prime Minister Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia website glowingly reported that he is fully committed to the “vision of Malaysia as a modern, progressive and forward-looking nation in practicing a democracy that protects the rights and freedoms of the rakyat.”  In conjunction, the 1Malaysia campaign website proclaims proudly that “[Before amendments to the University and University Colleges Act], students were not allowed to be involved, express sympathy, or support any kind of organization, body, worker’s union, or group including political parties outside of campus… [After the amendments], students can become political party members and become members of organizations, bodies, or political parties outside campus.”[3]

I ask, what is the point of making cosmetic amendments to the UUCA when student activists can still be judicially harassed for exercising their rights and expressing their beliefs? How can Malaysia aspire to be a progressive and forward-looking democracy if the voices of its young talents and future leaders are stifled?

I call upon the following persons: Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak (Prime Minister of Malaysia), Datuk Zahid Hamidi (Home Minister of Malaysia), and Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar (Inspector General of Royal Malaysian Police) to:

  1. Release Adam Adli immediately as his detention seems aimed at merely containing his student activist activities;
  2. Put an end to acts of any harassment against Adam Adli as well as against all student and youth activists in Malaysia.
  3. Support and guarantee the fundamental rights of freedom of speech for all student activists and youth leaders.

I urge the Barisan Nasional government to act swiftly and prudently on this matter as the rakyat is watching with great interest.