PETALING JAYA - The National Harmony Act can foster peace and help prevent hate speech and hate crime in the long run, says Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup.
"The National Unity and Integration Department and the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) are in the final stages of drafting the Act. We will be doing roadshows to get public feedback on the proposed Act," said Kurup, adding that it would be a long-term solution to stop hate speech and prevent it from escalating into violent acts.
He was responding to the public clamour for a specific law to curb hate crime after nun Sister Julianna Lim, 69, died after she was assaulted by a robber at the main entrance of the Church of Visitation in Seremban.
Although the police have ruled out hate crime as a motive, many netizens had voiced concerns over the rising racial and religious tension in the country.
"The recent weeks have been a testing time for the Government in maintaining peace and harmony in the country," Kurup said.
The National Harmony Act is set to replace the Sedition Act.
Malaysia Foundation trustee Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye commended the Government on its plans to get public feedback first.
"It is important to consult the people and get their input when drafting a law that will affect them," he said.
On whether a harmony law will be enough to prevent hate crime, Lee said that it "is better to have a legislation that is positive".
The Bar Council, however, believes it would be better to enact laws to curb hate crimes.
Its president Christopher Leong said it was not right to legally force someone to love another.