No need to replace Sedition Act

Lisa J. Ariffin (FMT)July 12, 2013

Pakatan MPs believe there are already enough provisions under the Penal Code to prosecute offenders.

PETALING JAYA: There is no need to draft a new Bill to replace of the Sedition Act 1948 as there are adequate provisions under the Penal Code to prosecute offenders.

Pakatan Rakyat leaders today said this in response to statements by BN leaders that a replacement Bill must be drafted in the event Cabinet decides to follow through its proposal to abolish the Sedition Act.

PAS central working committee member, Dzulkefly Ahmad, said today that the Penal Code has enough provisions to “handle and criminalise cases if they are truly founded on sedition”.

“We don’t need a Sedition Act of this nature. We have enough provisions in the Penal Code itself for the dispensing of justice. The cases can be handled by the provisions of the Penal Code,” he said.

He said the Sedition Act infringes on the fundamental liberties of people as stated in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution which guarantees the right to freedom of speech, assembly and association.

“What is most deplorable is the misuse and abuse of all these forms of draconian acts on legitimate democratic assent,” he added.

Padang Serai MP N Surendran concurred, and said: “It is not at all required. There are other provisions in the Penal Code that deal with statements cause racial tension and ill-feeling between races”.

“There is no necessity because the Sedition Act absolutely breaches the people’s fundamental right to freedom of speech,” he said.

“There are only good implications if it is repealed,” he added.

Asked if there was a need to replace the Act in the event it is repealed, Surendran reiterated that there was “no need for a new Bill”.

“Going by BN’s track record, it will be an old Bill with a new name. My view is to abolish the Act and that’s the end of it,” he said.

“It is selectively used to charge opposition leaders and activists. Only good can come from its repeal,” he added.

Surendran pointed out that although the Act was founded by the British during the Malayan occupation, it was never used prior to the country’s independence in 1957.

“Only in independent Malaya, the Act is being used to charge offenders. I can go as far as to say that the Act is evil,” he lamented. Act misused and abused

Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua explained Pakatan’s call for the repeal of the Act was due to misuse by the government and the “vague manner” of its clauses.

“The Sedition Act has been abused by the government to victimise political politicians and political statements,” he said.

“If the Act is repealed, there will be no implications on any other element of law except those BN paints it aims to protect,” he added.

Pua too, agreed that there were “many other Act and laws in place” to overlook criminal elements undertaken by the citizen.

However, he acknowledged that a replacement Bill had yet to be drafted and was open for review.

“If the new Bill says that one cannot disparage another religion and discriminate against a race, then that’s fair enough,” he said.

“But if the government still has rights to prosecute for sedition, then there’s no point (for a new Bill),” he added.

Dzulkefly then said the Act must be repealed as he believed “all racial and religious bigotry will finally be detested and debunked”.

“It (racial and religious bigotry) will not find its support and will be marginalised. If we allow for this, people will be educated and they would contrast between wrong and right,” he said.

“Advance society calls for choice and democracy and how the government should educated the people rather than using coercion to get what they want.”

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