KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 ― The Sedition Act 1948 is set to sport sharper fangs and more claws with proposed amendments, just barely two years after Putrajaya promised to abolish the colonial-era law.
As Putrajaya comes to grips with an alleged increase in harmful comments especially through the social media, the Najib administration has justified the need to retain and reinforce the Sedition Act to deal with “the threats against peace, public order and the security of Malaysia”.
Some Malaysians were appalled, with lawyers calling the proposed amendments the “most serious” attack on freedom of speech in the country's history, while Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru said the changes would curtail the courts' discretionary powers.
The United Nations urged Malaysia ― a non-permanent member of its Security Council ― to withdraw the planned amendments that it said would “seriously” undermine freedom of expression and “make a bad law worse”.
The amendments were passed at 2.30am today, after a record debate lasting over 14 hours.
Here is a brief summary of the changes to the Sedition Act 1948: