A Malaysian court has sentenced an activist to a year in jail for remarks made at a forum last year that the court said could have incited the public to overthrow the government through street protests.
Adam Adli on Friday became the latest person to be convicted under the Sedition Act, a colonial-era law that activists say is used by the government to curb democratic dissent. Sedition as defined by the law includes promoting hatred against the government.
In May 2013, just days after the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition retained power in a controversial general election, Adam was charged with making seditious statements that included calling for people to “go down to the streets to seize back our power” while addressing a political forum.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said Adam was the latest victim of a “sustained assault” against freedom of expression, adding Malaysia was on a slippery slope to authoritarian rule. At least 14 people have been charged under the law since last year, with one person sentenced to 10 months in jail.
Adam was released on bail today pending an appeal. The Malay Mail Online reports:
“We have obtained a stay order on the basis that we will be appealing against the sentence and conviction,” Adam’s lawyer, Latheefa Koya, told reporters outside the courtroom.
Adam seemed unfazed by Friday’s hearing, describing the decision as a “fiasco” in one tweet:
Dear friends, thanks for all the supports! Will be released in no time. :) #MansuhAktaHasutan
— Adam Adli (@AdamAdli) September 19, 2014
Despite the morning fiasco, i’m not going to skip my evening lecture today. Ngee. — Adam Adli (@AdamAdli) September 19, 2014
Additional reporting by Associated Press