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Hold a referendum on future of Sedition Act

Two years ago, our beloved prime minister vowed that he will repeal the Sedition Act 1948 and replace it with a National Harmony Act. Fast forward two years and we're still clinging on to a promise (or a re-promise if you will) although there have been positive signs that the National Harmony Bill is slowly but surely getting ready for tabling.

However, it was reported yesterday that most Umno grassroots leaders are for the Sedition Act. Shahidan Kassim, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, claimed 161 out of a total 191 divisions nationwide had voiced a desire to keep the pre-independence law in a recent survey undertaken by central Umno.

The news is not at all surprising as in recent times, Umno leaders haven’t been charged with sedition despite making arguably seditious statements. We have Muhyiddin Yassin’s statement about a repeat of the May 13 racial riots, as well as Zahid Hamidi’s recent “non-Malays are getting arrogant” rant.

A joint statement made by a coalition of Malaysian NGOs in protest of the Sedition Act  listed down those who have been charged under the draconian and archaic piece of legislation. They are:

1. David Orok - member, Sabah Reform Party,

2. Azmi Sharom - law professor, Universiti Malaya,

3. N Surendran - lawyer, Padang Serai MP,

4. Khalid Samad - Shah Alam MP,

5. RSN Rayer - Lawyer, Seri Delima assemblyperson,

6. Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman - president, Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia,

7. Teresa Kok - Seputeh MP,

8. Chua Tian Chang - Batu MP,

9. Hishamuddin Rais - social activist,

10. Adam Adli – student activist,

11. Safwan Anang - student activist,

12. Haris Ibrahim – lawyer/ social activist,

13. Tamrin Tun Abdul Ghafar - political activist,

14. Md Shuhaimi Shafiei - Sri Muda assemblyperson.

Numerous others are being investigated, including:

1. Viktor Wong - activist, Parti Rakyat Malaysia,

2. Susan Loone - journalist, Malaysiakini ,

3. Hassan Karim - lawyer/ PKR Johor vice-chairperson,

4. Rafizi Ramli - Pandan MP,

5. Ali Abdul Jalil - member of the public,

6. 17-year-old schoolboy (unnamed),

7. Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin - Changkat Jering assemblyperson.

Do we need the Sedition Act?

It is undeniable that some of the aforementioned things said/done are controversial. But do we need the Sedition Act when we have the Penal Code (Sections 298, 298A, Section 500) and the Defamation Act 1957 to deal with such sensitive matters?

To get a better view of whether to repeal/maintain the Sedition Act, it is necessary to do a nationwide referendum. A survey of the Umno division heads nationwide would be insufficient to safely conclude that Malaysians want the Sedition Act to stay

A referendum is the most effective way to obtain public opinion as evidenced in Scotland, whereby on Sept 18 this year, Scottish citizens will be asked whether they want Scotland to go independent, thus leaving the United Kingdom. It is only logical that the rakyat are consulted about such a momentous thing

Similarly in our country, we should hold a referendum about the future of the Sedition Act. The wishes of the majority should then be respected and acted upon. On my part, I am Joshua Wu Kai-Ming and I demand the abolition of the Sedition Act #MansuhAktaHasutan #AbolishSeditionAct