Government says no to abolishing Sedition Act
So soon after saying no to a Race Relations Act to combat racial crimes, the government announced today that it had no plans to abolish the Sedition Act 1948.
In a written reply to Chong Eng (DAP-Bukit Mertajam) in Parliament today, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein asserted that this was because the Sedition Act was needed to help curb racial issues.
In her question, Chong had pointed out that Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim himself had suggested that the piece of legislation should be abolished and replaced with a Race Relations Act.
In his interview with English daily The Sun in September, Rais had called the Sedition Act “outdated”, pointing out that a new Race Relations Act should be put in place to properly spell out what is acceptable and what is not when it came to racial matters.
He had said this was to avoid a repeat of incidents such as the recent cases of the racist school principals.
Despite his suggestion, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of unity affairs Senator Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon announced in his written reply in Parliament last week that the government would not enact the Race Relations Act.
He said that this was because the country had enough laws to govern race relation issues.
Today, Hishammuddin echoed Koh’s view and said that the Sedition Act was still “relevant” based on the country’s atmosphere and landscape as a diverse nation with different races, cultures and religion.
“It is needed to uphold national security and the peace and harmony of the country,” he said.
He pointed out that at present, the government was taking action under the law in 10 cases involving racial issues.
“Although there are only 10 cases, the law is still needed to curb racial issues and stop it from becoming more serious,” he said.
Hishammuddin explained that the Sedition Act was enacted in 2008 to allow the government to charge any individual, group or association that have a tendency towards instigating racial hatred through their actions, speech, words, publications or others.
Calls for review of the country’s preventive laws on racial issues cropped up recently following a spate of racially-charged issues.
The government has been accused of dragging its feet in the cases involving two school principals in Kedah and Johor who were accused of uttering racial slurs.
It was announced yesterday that the Kedah principal had already been punished with a heavy warning and a transfer.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had claimed that the government has done its part by issuing a stern warning to the Kedah principal, and it was the “heaviest” form of punishment the government could dish out to a civil servant.
Last week Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin refused to allow a debate in Parliament over the alleged racial slurs made by two school principals, claiming that action had already been taken against them.
Pandikar did not, however, provide any details on the supposed action taken against the two.The Malaysian Insider - 19 October 2010
I didn't say any other word other than replace. I'd say replacing, not abolishing the so called 62 year old Sedition Act with a new better act, e.g Race Relations Act that Karpal Singh spoke about recently.
In Australia, there is this 1975 Racial Discrimination Act which makes it an offense for whomsoever commits acts that shows a clear discrimination to the other person in all forms - employment, rendering services, access to facilities, and so forth. An offense under that act can land a guilty person a maximum of 6 years in jail. A supplement act, the 1995 Racial Hatred (inserted after part II of RDA Act) makes it a criminal offense for a person to be in an offensive behavior because of race, religion and so forth.
If this act is used in Malaysia, then the two principals involved in the racism remarks problem could have been jailed for up to six years! And even those bigots like Ahmad Ismail previously would end up in Kajang or Sungai Buloh prison for that offense. Sadly, in this case, Malaysia, with UMNO in the lead are still practicing the divide and conquer tactics in addition the race-based politics. If we are to take that law into the context, don't you think that UMNO leaders could be sent to jail over this offense thing, particularly those who were caught by the press of saying racial related matters?
Speaking of application of law, the Race Relations Act is better in these times rather than using a pre-Independence law against the 21st century. Those who are well-educated or think far ahead would wonder why such old law is used in a new age where not many people use old methods anymore whereas if new ones can do things much better how? Of course, the problem would pose is whether the new solution is is still the same as what the present law would do or so, as what the government would argue.
Hishamuddin Hussein is not the first person to say no to abolishing Sedition Act. Koh Tsu Koon previously said no to Race Relations Act, even though it is already high time for one act like that. But Koh's statement is the same as Hisham's but just two differences between two men: Koh is old fossil, since he's already 60 but Hishamuddin is not even 60. And secondly, Hisham is a legit MP but Koh is merely a senator appointed despite losing in a general election! From that statement above, do you think that what he said is equivalent to what old men would say, or in other words thinking like an old fossil?
Sigh...Tak mahu ganti ah, Hisham? I didn't say abolish but replacing it, lest I'd get misquoted!