Petition against Evidence Act changes
Published: Fri, 29 Jun 2012
KUALA LUMPUR: A petition against recent amendments to the Evidence Act 1950 was handed to Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong.
The petition, which has more than 3,300 signatures, was handed to Liew by the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) in Parliament on Tuesday.
The government was urged to withdraw Section 114A of the Evidence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2012 because it allegedly threatens freedom of expression online.
Internet users would also reportedly be presumed guilty rather than innocent if their accounts are hacked and used to publish illegal content online.
Due to the presumption of guilt, CIJ fears the Act would discourage people from using the Internet freely.
“The law is vague and broad enough that it has caused a lot of fear. Majority of Malaysians will err on the side of caution,” said CIJ director Jac SM Kee.
The presumption was said to also disproportionately burden the majority of Internet users in the country who were not very tech-savvy.
Those going online would have the burden to prove that they are innocent and that it was hackers and not they who posted illegal content on the Internet.
“What can an ordinary Internet user do to prove it wasn’t he who published something online when the MCMC itself sometimes says it doesn’t have the technical resources to find the real culprits?” Jac asked Liew.
The deputy minister said that while fears of the Act’s amendments were misplaced, more dialogue on the issue was needed.
He also thanked the petitioners for presenting their views. Joining CIJ at the petition presentation were Digital News Asia executive director A Asohan and Kuala Lumpur Bar Information Technology Committee co-chairperson Foong Cheng Leong.
CIJ launched its petition on May 31 as part of a campaign to stop the amendments which have yet to be gazetted.
The petition was signed by prominent Malaysians such as Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng, film producer Pete Teo, writer and radio personality Patrick Teoh, social activists Marina Mahathir and Dr Irene Fernandez, and notable academics Dr Azmi Sharom and Dr Mustafa K Anuar.