The prime minister says the law is still relevant.
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said this in his written reply to Bukit Gelugor MP, Karpal Singh, recently.
“For now, the government has no plans of repealing the Sedition Act 1948 as the legislation is still relevant to safeguard national security and harmony…” he said.
Karpal, the DAP chairman, who has been charged in court on numerous occasions under the Sedition Act, asked why was the law not repealed when it had “outlived is purpose”.
The law makes it an offcence for a person to act, speak or publish statements with a “seditious tendency”.
Although frequently contested, the government maintains that the law remains important to monitor a multi-racial society.
This was clear when a proposed Race Relation’s Bill to regulate racial interaction was scrapped recently.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nazri Abdul Aziz, told FMT recently that the bill which was initially expected to be tabled during this parliamentary sitting, was cancelled as other laws such as the Sedition Act existed to monitor race relations.
Many quarters have urged Najib to repeal the Sedition Act when he announced a slew of reforms for greater civil liberties on the eve of Malaysia Day last year.
These include two new laws to replace the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960, amendments to the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, amendments to Section 15 of the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) 1971 where undergraduates will now be allowed to be members of political parties.
The first phase of the reforms was carried out in October when the government scrapped the Restricted Residence Act 1933 and the Banishment Act 1959.
The second phase was carried out at the last parliamentary session from October to December, where laws were either passed, or announcements made to repeal emergency proclamations.
As promised, on Nov 24, the three existing emergency proclamations were lifted rendering the Emergency Public Order and Prevention of Crime Ordinance 1969 (EO) void.
The Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011, which is to replace Section 27 of The Police Act 1967, was also passed on Nov 29, but not without much contention.