The repeal of the Sedition Act 1948 would lead to widespread abuse of freedom of speech, says Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“Sedition has been widespread ever since we abolished the ISA (Internal Security Act). If you don’t want law and a life without law,
there will be a lot of problems. Everybody will take advantage of it (freedom from conviction),” Mahathir told reporters here.
“If it were me, I would want the law. That is why we have the (concept of) rule of law. If we abolish law, then there is no rule,” he added.
Mahathir said the effect of repeal would lead to people “feeling free” and believing that “they can do whatever they want”.
“From a civilised society with no usage of vulgar language, we can now even find people who insult the (Prophet Muhammad),” he said.
“In a civilised society, we need laws. The problem here is not that the laws are not good, but people misuse it,” he added.
When pointed out that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had made an announcement last July to repeal the Sedition Act, Mahathir said:
“That is the PM’s opinion”.
“I am of the opinion that if we amend the Act or law until it is ineffective, then there might as well be no law. We are free to do anything we want,” he said.
Asked further if he supported the restoration of ISA, Mahathir said: “I did not abolish ISA, other people did it”.
However, Mahathir said he did not disagree with the repeal or amendment of the Sedition Act, but stressed that “research, public opinions and expert advice” must be considered before Cabinet makes a decision.
He also added that the Act should not be repealed only to appease the opposition.
“Based on the opposition, Malaysia should not have any laws. Laws cannot be made because the opposition said so,” he said.
“At the same time, they (the opposition) ask for the rule of law. When there is no law, where can there be rule of law?” he asked.
Earlier today, Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz insisted that the government was committed to repeal the Sedition Act and that the matter had received the Cabinet approval.
His statement was a stark contrast to Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who told the media yesterday that the Cabinet had yet to make a decision on the matter.