KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian Bar calls upon the government to abide by and put into effect its promise to repeal the Sedition Act 1948 and to propose new national harmony legislation that would serve to promote and achieve genuine peace and harmony.
Its president, Christopher Leong in a statement today, said the Malaysian Bar is also further appalled that the Prime Minister is not only reneging on the promise he made two years ago to repeal the Sedition Act 1948, but also intends to "strengthen" it.
"As we ordinarily understand it, a promise is a commitment to carry through a matter despite difficult circumstances, and not only when it is convenient to do so.
"It is ludicrous that Malaysians would not only be prohibited from discussing and debating issues of public and national interest, or constitutional matters, but would be criminally punished for doing so," added Leong.
He said that the execution of the Sedition Act 1948 is highly oppressive and represents a lurch towards authoritarianism.
"It is delusional to imagine that such draconian legislation would foster national peace and harmony,
"It is also folly to think that the Sedition Act 1948 is our answer to maintaining and promoting peace and harmony. There is nothing in the history of the Sedition Act 1948 and its use — either previously or currently — that supports any such notion," said Leong.
"The Sedition Act 1948 was not designed nor intended to achieve true peace and harmony," he added.
Its sole purpose was to entrench power and control by denying democratic rights and space through suppression and punishment,he said.
"In our pursuit for peace and harmony, we must accept that questions, criticisms and disagreements are integral to the learning and maturing process," he added.
In order to achieve peace and harmony, people should be honest with themselves, as to what the real causes of disharmony are in Malaysia, he said.
"In many instances, disharmony in Malaysia arises from insecurity, the exploitation of such insecurity, and the inability or unwillingness to deal with questions, criticisms or differing views in a mature manner," he said.
"There are quarters in Malaysia who have created an environment of disharmony — misinterpreting and abusing the Federal Constitution, distorting our history, exploiting insecurities, and resorting to scare-mongering and threats of, or incitement to, violence against property or persons, as a response to questions, criticisms or differing views," he said.
He added these individuals are not brought to account by the law but instead, the Sedition Act 1948 is used against the persons who raise questions, concerns or criticisms or differing views.
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From: SaSa General FEED