The Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) has expressed regret over the police violation of Parliamentary privileges by invoking the Sedition Act 1948 against lawmakers' speeches made in Parliament or state legislative assemblies.
In a press release today, Suhakam chairperson Hasmy Agam (right), said the authorities must respect and uphold Parliamentary privileges in order for lawmakers to be allowed to dispense their duties without fear or favour.
"The Commission emphasises that the freedom of speech and expression in Parliament shall not be impeached or become the basis of criminal proceedings.
"It is therefore essential that MPs are guaranteed freedom from criminal prosecution, civil suits or superfluous disciplinary action," said Hasmy.
On Monday, Lembah Nurul Izzah MP Nurul Izzah Anwar was arrested under the Sedition Act over her speech to the Dewan Rakyat on March 11.
Last August, Seri Delima assemblyperson RSN Rayer was charged under the same law for directing the word "celaka" at Umno leaders during his speech at the Penang state assembly on May 20, 2014.
Although Suhakam recognises that there are exceptions to the privileges and immunities enjoyed by lawmakers as contained in Articles 63(4) and 72(4) of the Federal Constitution, Hasmy said the authorities must recognise that there are already existing measures to punish lawmakers under the Standing Orders.
"Nonetheless, the fundamental right of freedom of speech shall be upheld in Parliament at all times," he said.