PETALING JAYA - The Sedition Act is for the protection of all Malaysians of all religions, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
"The Sedition Act is not just for Muslims; it is for the protection of all Malaysians.
"It is aimed at preventing any person who promotes feelings of hostility between persons or groups on the grounds of religion - whether the religion attacked is Christianity, Hinduism, Islam or any of the other faiths Malaysia is proud to be home to," said Najib in a televised interview with TV3 on Thursday night.
He added that the decision to retain and amend the Sedition Act 1948 was to realise the goal of building a stable, peaceful and harmonious state.
"We will not and cannot stand for the incitement of racial or inter-ethnic conflict. We have come too far to harm the progress that we have made.
"And that is why the Government decided to keep the Sedition Act and amend it to make it a better and more suitable law," said Najib
The amendments, which were tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday add to the Act by allowing bail to be denied for those charged if the prosecution feels it is not in the interest of the public, the substitution of fines for offences with a jail term of between three and seven years, a new offence involving bodily injury and damage to property which includes a mandatory jail sentence of five to 20 years among others.
Najib also spoke about his 2012 promise to repeal the Sedition Act.
"You have to bear in mind that circumstances change. From time to time, we need to re-evaluate things, and leaders are allowed to change their mind when it comes to doing what is best for the rakyat," he said.