Deputy home minister says won’t rush into abolishing Sedition Act.
Ramkarpal Singh (PH-Bukit Gelugor) today flayed the federal government for conducting “one study after another” with regards to the abolition of the Sedition Act 1948.
He said the removal of the law, which critics have argued was open to abuse, was a simple affair.
“We want a proper explanation from the home ministry. Instead, we keep getting generic statements about more time being needed to conduct studies.
“(The public) is tired of these excuses,” he said during the winding-up speech on Budget 2020 by the Home Ministry.
Ramkarpal, a criminal lawyer, said all the federal government had to do to remove the law was to amend the criminal procedure code to protect the monarchy.
“That is the only impediment towards abolishing (the Sedition Act). Is the government committed to remedying this? We seek your answer,” said Ramkarpal.
In response, Deputy Home Minister Mohd Azis Jamman said the removal of the Sedition Act cannot be rushed because it will affect other laws, including the Federal Constitution. He did not go into details.
“Pakatan Harapan’s commitment is to remove this law. However, we must ensure there are no legal loopholes.
“We don’t want to remove the law and lead us to having to find new solutions. This will cause problems,” he said.
To a question by Fahmi Fadzil (PH-Lembah Pantai), Azis did not specify a timeframe for the removal of the law.
“A special committee is working hard on this matter… I cannot specify a timeframe,” he said.
“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sifting through laws (to take action) in the event that someone touches on these three topics once the Sedition Act is repealed,” he said.
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.
The Sedition Act is one of several “draconian” laws which Harapan had pledged to remove during the last general election campaign.