Dian was charged at the cyber court at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court this morning under Section 233 (1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) for sharing offensive and menacing content as well as Section 505(b) of the Penal Code for making statements that could cause public mischief. Bail was set at RM4,000 for both charges and she posted bail. She was represented by lawyer Hamsagayathri Loghanathan.
From left: Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) deputy chairperson S. Arutchelvan, Dian Abdullah’s son, blogger Dian Abdullah and her lawyer, Hamsagayathri Loghanathan, at the Kuala Lumpur court complex on 9 June 2020. Picture by CIJ
As a freedom of expression watchdog, we are concerned with the recent spike in charges under Section 233 of the CMA. The government must stop charging and investigating individuals under regressive laws such as this section for voicing dissent against the State and public authorities. Restrictions or limits on the freedom of expression must be necessary and proportionate while measures adopted to address alleged online infringement must meet the harm test to determine legitimacy, necessity and proportionality.
Criminalising content that could potentially challenge and attempt to hold the State to account is grossly disproportionate to any legitimate aim of protecting public order. We need an enabling environment that promotes critical thinking and healthy debates that would uphold democracy and good governance.
It is time that we reject actions of the State to silence dissenting voices so that freedom of expression and speech can flourish in Malaysia!