The de facto law minister calls Ibrahim Ali a clown, but acknowledges his entitlement to freedom of speech.
“Controversial issues that were once considered taboo are now discussed openly and frankly in public without the fear of causing racial tension,” he said when the subject of Perkasa leader Ibrahim Ali came up during a press conference here over the weekend.
He described the Sedition Act as having “no relevance in these modern times” and said the government was giving Ibrahim the same freedom of speech it had allowed the online media.
Several public figures, as well as commentators in the online media, have criticised the government for its apparent reluctance to act against Ibrahim and the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia for statements and articles perceived as provoking racial strife.
“We cannot have double standards, one for the alternative media and another for Utusan Malaysia and Ibrahim Ali,” Nazri said.
He described Ibrahim as a “political clown”, but said freedom of speech must also apply to him.
Nazri held the press conference after attending a function at a school here. He is the MP for Padang Rengas.
Asked if he would initiate a repeal of the Sedition Act, he said: “No, the move must first come from the people through debate.”
He said many of the articles and comments appearing on the Internet were insulting to Malays and Muslims and were seditious, but he added: “An issue is only sensitive if it is not debated or discussed openly. When it is frankly debated in public, then it becomes a non-issue as there are checks and balances in the Federal Constitution.
“At one time, even I was also very sensitive to such issues, but I have matured over the years and have accepted this as freedom of speech.
“Society has the right to freedom of expression, as when Malay rights are questioned by the non-Malays and the relevance of Chinese and Tamil schools by the Malays.
“However, all the special rights of the Malays and the continued existence of the vernacular schools are enshrined in the Federal Constitution and there is no danger of them being removed by such speech or expression.
“So such public talk does not warrant the use of the Sedition Act.”