Despite strong protest from civil society, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nazri Abdul Aziz says the controversial section 114A of the Evidence Act will stay.
Nazri told reporters in his Kuala Kangsar constituency yesterday that the government made the decision after the opposition failed to show seriousness in opposing the amendment.
“We will maintain this law. Moreover, they (the opposition) were not serious in making any changes,” he is quoted as saying by Malay daily Sinar Harian .
"The bill was tabled in April and debated for four hours, and I replied to all questions raised by the opposition. They (the opposition) were not totally against the amendment because they are also potential victims," he said, according to Bernama .
Under section 114A, introduced as an amendment to the Evidence Act in April, the law presumes a person or organisation whose name is carried together with any online publication as the author of that content.
If the person or organisation is not the author of the publication, it is up to that person or organisation to prove innocence. The same applies to network owners whose Internet connectivity is used by others for "illegal" activities.
Following a major online protest early this month, dubbed the Internet Blackout Day , led Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to instruct cabinet to " discuss " the controversial amendment.
However, the cabinet meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin later decided to maintain the status quo .
‘Doesn’t apply on Umno Youth’
According to Star Online , Nazri said the law was not aimed at persecuting innocent people but to protect the country from terrorism.
"The amendment (section 114A) will stay because there are more serious things like acts of terrorism, which require the amendment to protect the security of the country.
"I would have hesitated to table it if I did not thought it could serve the security of the country well," he said.
On a related development, Nazri said section 114A cannot be applied on Umno Youth, who is accused of posting a seditious message on Facebook .
“The amendment is only a form of procedure. It can only be invoked if a person is charged under other laws and the court is convinced to use it to shift the burden of proof to the accused,” he said.
Nazri, who is also the de facto law minister, said those accused can prove their innocence through a balance of probabilities, as how Umno Youth did by lodging a police report immediately.
Umno Youth had lodged a police report to disassociate itself from a Facebook page titled “Umno Youth Malaysia”, which published an article claiming that Pakatan Rakyat seeks to turn Malaysia into a Christian state.