Harmony Act will be clearer

The Sedition Act 1948 is viewed as repressive in that it provides for a blanket cover against the freedom of expression in an effort to secure peace. In seeking to prevent a repeat of the May 13, 1969 incident, the scope of the act was broadened even further to a point where the charge was that the definition of sedition is too vague.

For example, in 2003, the then prime minister threatened to charge opponents of a change in the educational policy with sedition.

It is not surprising, therefore, that under Datuk Seri Najib Razak's liberalisation programme, the Act would be repealed and replaced by the benign sounding National Harmony Act. Nevertheless, those matters the Sedition Act dealt with remain relevant in maintaining peace and national security as the recent spate of hate postings on Facebook and Twitter demonstrate.

Whatever the act may be called, the intention is similar: both seek to guarantee that special provisions of the Social Contract as enshrined in the Federal Constitution are not questioned.

There is no doubting that any challenge to these provisions cannot but cause a rift between the races as May 13 clearly demonstrates. The plurality of races obviously does not easily reconcile itself to modern notions of citizenship as the younger generations born and bred in the country grow ever more remote from the legacies of 1957.

Najib is insistent that all freedoms be limited by responsibility. To ignore this would be a fatal mistake, because there are amongst us individuals without any sense of obligation to others and think nothing of insulting the king, Prophet Muhammad and Muslims as a whole.

There is in the mindset of these simpletons no inhibition about transposing the idea of freedoms as practised in Europe to this country. What makes these acts dangerous is the intention they have of causing mischief, if not something even more malignant. Under these circumstances what is a government to do?

The new law will be more exact in the way it expresses the limitations to the freedoms of expression imposed on the individual or group. This ensures that it cannot be easily abused. Clarity then is an important change in the new act that will make its application more predictable. But, the fact remains that the need to uphold harmony and national interests take priority over all else.

It is the government's duty to act firmly against those who dare threaten the peace and national solidarity that has been built since independence.

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