That is an important question that Perkasa president (Ibrahim Ali) and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Paul Low Seng Kuan) have attempted to address in the past week or so.
Ibrahim Ali in all his wisdom articulated that the Sedition Act was enacted protect the non-Malays. He was quoted as saying, “The Malays are the majority group, if there is any conflict, it would not affect them but affect the minority groups.”
It appears as though as Ibrahim Ali has found how to ameliorate decades of unresolved racial tension! However, his statement is oversimplifying everything.
What he’s trying to say is that, with all the troublemakers locked up, there wouldn’t be any conflict between the races. We will see below why this isn’t true.
Moving on to Paul Low Seng Kuan, the former Transparency International chief has drawn a lot of flak for insisting that the Sedition Act is needed to preserve peace and harmony in a multiracial society.
What he said bears some resemblance to what was said by Ibrahim Ali. Basically, the Sedition Act will be used “to stop anyone from making remarks that incite violence and hatred in our society”.
A quick reflection of the use (or misuse) of the Sedition Act will clearly reveal to us who it really protects.
As we all know, anti-Islam and anti-Malay comments are treated as seditious. No argument there as the attorney-general has been very consistent on this issue. Apparently now, anti-umno statements would be regarded as seditious (as per RSN Rayer’s “Umno celaka” remark).
The latest additions to the list of seditious issues include legal opinion (the late Karpal Singh, Edmund Bon), ‘liking’ an Israel-related Facebook page (unnamed 17-year-old schoolboy), publishing an article regarding an interview on police treatment (Susan Loone), and academic opinion (Azmi Sharom).
Will there come a time when everything under the sun is seditious? Nah!
1. Anti-Hindu statements are not seditious
(i) Dr Ridhuan Tee Abdullah
“ Pernahkah kita bersungut ketika perayaan Thaipusam? Seminggu sebelum perayaan, seluruh kawasan sekitar Batu Caves sesak. Kenderaan diparkir sesuka hati. Lautan manusia satu warna berhimpun, seolah-olah tidak ada warna lain lagi di negara ini .”
Translation: Have we (the Muslims) ever complained during Thaipusam? A week before the festival, the entire area surrounding Batu Caves experiences traffic jam. Cars are parked everywhere. There is an ocean of similar coloured humans gathered, as if no other colour exists in this country.
(ii) Zulkifli Noordin
“I have been to Sungai Ganga before. How can you (the Hindus) say it’s pure? There are chicken carcasses and small sticks floating.”
2. Anti-Christian statements are not seditious
(i) Anti-christian seminar at UiTM
“Every Jesus follower should enter Islam. If not, it would be a betrayal to Jesus.” (Insan LS Mokoginta)
“The Christian gospel is a fake gospel.” (Masyud SM)
(ii) Ibrahim Ali
“Muslims must unite to protect their religion. They must seize those Bibles, including the Malay editions, which contained the term ‘Allah’ and other Arabic religious terms, and burn them."
(iii) Dr Ridhuan Tee Abdullah
“Unfortunately Muslims do not go to churches to see how they condemn Muslims. We are accused of oppression and cruelty towards Christians.”
Such claims are baseless as churches do not preach hatred towards other religions
3. Selangor ‘darul babi’ is not seditious
(i) Dr Ridhuan Tee Abdullah
“I am worried, if this project (RM100 million integrated pig farm) is approved, Selangor will be known as darul babi.”
If indeed the Sedition Act is meant to protect the non-Malays or even to preserve peace and harmony, why are all the aforementioned individuals getting away scot-free despite all the hue and cry?
So who does the Sedition Act really protect? Until now, no one can say for sure. It remains a hot potato.
Henry Ward Beecher once famously said, “Laws and institutions, like clocks, must occasionally be cleaned, wound up, and set to true time.” Ergo, the Sedition Act needs to be amended or abrogated in order to avoid the dangers of selective prosecution.
JOSHUA WU is a first year law student who blogs at www.rebuttedopinions.wordpress.com