We won’t rush into abolishing Sedition Act, says deputy home minister

Deputy Home Minister Azis Jamman.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government today said it would not rush into abolishing the Sedition Act as promised before the May 9 polls last year.

Deputy Home Minister Azis Jamman said Putrajaya must first ensure there would be no voids in law once the act is repealed.

“As the saying goes, ‘biar lambat, asal selamat’,” he told the Dewan Rakyat, quoting the Malay proverb for “better safe than sorry”.

He was responding to Fahmi Fadzil (PH-Lembah Pantai), who asked how committed the ruling coalition was to doing away with the controversial act.

Azis said he could not give a specific time by which the Sedition Act would be abolished.

“But we remain committed (to abolishing the act). In fact, the home minister in the post-Cabinet meeting last night said the government must expedite this matter.”

To another question, Azis said there are 11 acts that overlap with the Sedition Act, including the Election Offences Act, Criminal Procedure Act and Societies Act.

He said the government would need to ensure that the crimes covered by the Sedition Act are moved under other laws before it is abolished.

These include offences related to race, religion and royalty.

“We don’t want a situation where we will be sifting through laws (to take action) in the event that someone touches on these three topics once the Sedition Act is repealed,” he told Ramkarpal Singh (PH-Bukit Gelugor), who wanted a definite answer as to whether the government was committed to repealing the act.

Last month, Azis said crimes related to race, religion and royalty, also known as the 3Rs, would be moved under other laws if the Sedition Act is abolished in order to maintain peace and harmony in the country.

He said the offences could be included under the Penal Code or a new law, if necessary.