KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 5 — Datuk Ibrahim Ali warned the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) today it stood to lose his vote at the next polls if the government repeals the Sedition Act 1948.
The president of Malay rights group Perkasa said he was “not that influential” but had consistently voted the 13-party coalition previously; adding that he no longer saw any need to support the BN if the Najib administration decides to “liberalise everything”, putting it on the same level as the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) opposition bloc.
“People support BN not because they like the leaders but because of the policies.
“But if they want to liberalise everything, for so-called transformation, then their agenda will be the same as Pakatan,” he was quoted by news portal Malaysiakini as telling reporters after launching a campaign in support of the Sedition Act, initiated by the National Unity Front (NUF).
Ibrahim said the pro-Sedition Act campaign was to counter the Malaysian Bar’s National Young Lawyers Committee’s #MansuhAktaHasutan bid to pressure Putrajaya to speed up dismantling the colonial-era law.
The former federal lawmaker said NUF will be kicking off a signature drive to retain the 66-year-old law on October 18 and hoped to include former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as well as former inspectors-general of police, whom he said had spoken out against the repeal.
“They know the history on how difficult it is to maintain national security,” Ibrahim was quoted saying.
He claimed the campaign to keep the Sedition Act was not solely a “Malay agenda” and that non-Malay groups would launch similar campaigns soon, naming as examples, Pertubuhan Cina Era Baru Malaysia (Percisma) and the Pertubuhan Kebajikan dan Amal India Baru (Perinbam).
The government’s use of the colonial-era law to arrest and prosecute a number of people who hold dissenting views, from opposition lawmakers to student activists and the latest, a reporter and a professor, have spurred Malaysians to band together and demand the Najib administration repeal the law.
“The government must repeal it as soon as possible or people will see the government as not honouring its promise. The recent escalation of the charges under the Act looks like the government is cracking down on dissent,” Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, who heads the prime minister’s Global Movement of Moderates initiative, told Malay Mail Online today.
In Kedah, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak reiterated today his 2012 pledge to remove the Sedition Act 1948 and replace the controversial law with the proposed National Harmony Act to deal with religious and racial issues, amid growing discontent over its use on dissenters.