PETALING JAYA (June 9, 2013): The controversial Sedition Act 1948 should not be 'recast' as the proposed National Harmony Act, the Malaysian Bar said yesterday.
Bar Council vice-president Steven Thiru told theSun the Bar maintains its stand that the Sedition Act should be repealed as it is an outdated colonial law that is oppressive and draconian, and should not be repackaged as the proposed new law.
"There are sufficient provisions in the Penal Code and there is really no need to recast the Sedition Act as the 'National Harmony Act'," he said yesterday.
"While Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak had announced in 2012 that the Sedition Act will be replaced by the National Harmony Act, no draft of it has been given to us," he added.
There have been renewed calls for the National Harmony Act, which was first announced by Najib last July, to be implemented quickly.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia law lecturer Dr Rizal Abdul Rahman reportedly said the proposed National Harmony Act, based on its draft, contained more provisions that would be less subject to various interpretations.
However, Thiru said the Malaysian Bar has yet to receive a copy of the draft.
On a reported call for a 'Treason Act' to curb spread of the insults and criticism of Malay rulers, especially the King, Thiru said there was no need for such a law.
"Again, there are adequate provisions in the Penal Code and to that end, this will be another superfluous piece of legislation.
"We should resist the temptation to criminalise and sacrifice the freedom of speech at the drop of a hat," he said.