Activist Adam Adli, left, smiles before being released on bail at a court house in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last year. Pic: AP.

Activist Adam Adli, left, smiles before being released on bail at a court house in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last year. Pic: AP.

Student activist sentenced as human rights campaigners sound the alarm, reports Asia Sentinel

Malaysia is continuing its drastic crackdown on dissent, sentencing student activist Adam Adli Halim to a year in jail for statements he made at a forum in Kuala Lumpur in May last year accusing the government of voter fraud.

“Adam Adli is the latest victim of this sustained assault against freedom of expression in Malaysia,” according to a statement by Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch in Bangkok. “By throwing people in prison for political speech, Prime Minister Najib and his government are showing the kind of authoritarian tendencies one usually associates with single-party rule rather than democracy.”

The darkening picture is one of a government increasingly concerned that, after 50-odd years in power, it is losing its grip although the opposition is in equal disarray from internal dissension. It is also clear that the law is being used selectively, with inflammatory anti-minority statements made by the likes of Ibrahim Ali, the firebrand leader of the Malay supremacy NGO Perkasa, and other Malay supremacists ignored by the authorities.

So far, 14 people have been arrested for sedition over the past year, at least one for statements made as long as two years ago. Another was arrested over comments earlier this year about a five-year-old political controversy.

The first was the former  Perak State Governor, Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, from the opposition Parti Islam se-Malaysia, or PAS, who allegedly defamed Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in remarks he made in Ipoh in April of 2012 concerning the 2009 Perak political crisis.  Critics have accused Najib of bribing three Perak state assembly members to switch from the opposition to independent, allowing the Barisan Nasional to oust the state government won by the opposition in the 2009 election.

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