Laws to curb hate speech should not be part of the Sedition Act, says Ramkarpal

Ramkarpal has said he disagrees with Mujahid’s plans to include laws to curb hate speech as part of the Sedition Act 1948. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Ramkarpal has said he disagrees with Mujahid’s plans to include laws to curb hate speech as part of the Sedition Act 1948. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 — Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh has expressed disagreement with Islamic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa’s intention to include laws to curb hate speech as part of the Sedition Act 1948.

“Mujahid’s proposal that such legislation is incorporated by way of specific provisions in the Sedition Act is regrettable as the said Act has been identified by the PH government as one of the draconian laws which ought to be repealed in this country,” Ramkarpal said in a statement today. 

Mujahid reportedly said he is hopeful that by this year, a hate speech element will be included in the Sedition Act and the Commission of National Harmony and Reconciliation would be set up.

Mujahid, who is also the chairman of law and policy in the National Unity Consultative Council, said after discussions, it was agreed that a hate speech element would be included in amendments to the Sedition Act.

Ramkarpal, while agreeing that there is an urgent need to introduce a specific law to deal with racial harmony, including hate speech, said it was due to current legal or penal consequences for those who commit such acts being inadequate that led them to believe that little or no action will be taken against them.

He pointed out that the government had initially rightly proposed the Racial and Religious Hate Crimes Bill and the National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill, but unfortunately, abandoned its plan to table the same in favour of the possible setting up of a National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission instead. 

“A Commission will not have the bite of specific legislation as the police must be empowered to arrest and investigate hate speech speedily which is only possible if there is in place such specific legislation. 

“In the circumstances, it is hoped that the government reconsiders its original intention to table the said Bills or alternatively, introduce a single Bill for the purpose of tackling the menace of racism and it’s consequences, such as hate speech,” he added.

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