Malaysian govt to push for new law to preserve unity

Malaysian govt to push for new law to preserve unity
Peaceful: Kurup at a handphone outlet during the walkabout at Low Yat Plaza. On Kurup’s right are Heng and Lee

KUALA LUMPUR - The recent brawl at Low Yat Plaza has prompted the Government to push for a new law to address concerns over racial and religious hatred.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup said the new law would focus on preventive measures, education, moderation, harmony and rehabilitation.

He said it would be a new form of the National Harmony Act proposed several years earlier but shelved along with plans to repeal the Sedition Act.

"The incident has helped us realise that we need a law which will help preserve harmony among Malaysia's multi-racial and multi-religious communities," Kurup said in his speech after a walkabout at the mall here yesterday.

He said the incident on July 12 was an isolated one that was sensationalised, resulting in anger among the people.

"This is what happens if we allow our emotions to take over.

"Violence should not be the means to solve an issue," he said, adding that no one should take the law into their own hands.

Kurup, who is in charge of national unity, said if the situation was left unchecked, racial intolerance could get worse and hamper the country's effort towards achieving developed-nation status by 2020.

"We need to find the best possible way to resolve our problems without the need to shout words that carry hatred or extremism."

Speaking to reporters later, Kurup said the proposed law was not aimed at replacing the Sedition Act.

"The Sedition Act is on it its own, it is a punitive law. The National Harmony Act will be entirely a new Bill," he said.

He said the Bill would be tabled during the Parliament's next meeting between October and December.

He said discussions were being held with the various stakeholders and non-government bodies to gather views on what should be included in the new law.

Kurup said feedback and social media impact on race relations would also be brought to the attention of the relevant ministries.

Also present during the walkabout at the shopping mall were Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye and Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Senator Datuk Heng Seai Kie.

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