Shattering hopes of his two-year-old promise to repeal the Sedition Act, UMNO President and Prime Minister Najib Razak today pledged before over 2,700 delegates at UMNO’s General Assembly to maintain, and even enhance the controversial law.
Leading up to the announcement, the delegates were shown a video montage of various social media insults against Malays and Muslims, and of insults and criticisms against Royalty.
This also included the infamous Alvivi Bah Kut Teh poster that went viral online during the month of Ramadhan this year. Also in the video was a clip of activist Hishamuddin Rais repeating the word “hasut!” (incite).
As the video ended, Najib made the announcement that was met with thunderous applause and a standing ovation from the delegates.
“As Prime Minister, I’ve decided that the Sedition Act will be retained,”
“Not only will this Act be retained, it will be fortified,” he said.
He explained that two clauses would be added to the Act. Firstly, to punish those who suggest the cessation of Sabah and Sarawak from Malaysia, and secondly, to “protect the sanctity of Islam, while other religions also cannot be insulted.”
Najib said he made the decision after considering calls from UMNO Deputy President Muhyiddin Yassin, Wanita Umno, Pemuda Umno, Puteri Umno, the grassroots, as well as some non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
NGOs such as ISMA and Perkasa have been vocal about retaining the Act; Perkasa has even threatened to withdraw its support for the Barisan Nasional alliance if the Act is repealed.
The Prime Minister said he “would not bear to see as the Malay race be damned and insulted in their own land”.
He added that enforcement of the law had to be done in a fair manner in order to create a country that is more peaceful, stable and harmonious.
On 11 July 2012, Najib promised that the colonial-era law would be scrapped and replaced with a National Harmony Act to “strengthen national cohesion by protecting national unity and nurturing religious harmony”.
This year alone, at least 13 individuals have been prosecuted under the Act which has been wielded mostly against activists, opposition politicians, and those who have fallen afoul of Putrajaya-sanctioned views.
On 16 October this year, the Bar Council organised a peaceful march against the Sedition Act. -The Rocket