Gov't moots 15 years' jail for trampling on Jalur Gemilang

Trampling on the Jalur Gemilang or any foreign flag with the intention of dishonouring the flags can land someone in jail for at least five years' jail, the Bill to amend the Penal Code tabled in Dewan Rakyat today reads.

According to the additional section mooted under the chapter of the Act dealing with offences against the state, the maximum penalty is 15 years in jail and a fine.

Likewise, in another new subsection, those flying a flag other than the Jalur Gemilang to represent Malaysia can also be jailed for no less than five years and not more than 15 years.

The amendments mooted come soon after a controversy over the arrest of activists for flying the leftist flag Sang Saka Malaya during Merdeka eve this year.

In immediate reaction, PKR-linked NGO Lawyers for Liberty said that the amendment is "absurd" and "draconian and extremely disproportionate".

The NGO said that another amendment "termed opposition and NGO-activism... as vandalism".

"The BN might as well outlaw the opposition and NGOs - make it an offence to say or do anything that contravenes government politics or officials," it said on Twitter.

The NGO was referring to a proposed subsection under part of the Act which deals with mischief.

Under this, those partaking in political street art may be implicated under this proposed subsection which punishes those who put up unauthorised slogans, caricatures, banners and posters on public property with up to three years in jail.

Other amendments in the Bill tabled this morning without prior consultation with the Malaysian Bar or opposition lawmakers include:

Seven to 30 years' jail and a fine for accepting gratification to facilitate a terrorist; Five years' jail and a fine for harbouring an organised criminal group; Five to 20 years' jail and a fine for consorting with a criminal group; and Up to 10 years jail and a fine for recruiting members for an organised criminal group. The Bill will be debated in the ongoing parliamentary session which began on Monday and will conclude in December.