M'sia DPM: Govt open to suggestions to further improve Sedition Act

KUALA LUMPUR - The Government is open to suggestions on further improving the Sedition Act 1948 to ensure peace, harmony and security, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

"If some non-bumiputras feel that the Act is biased and is not enough to protect them, they can always submit a proposed addendum to the Act. The Government is prepared to do it," he said, adding that amendments could be made next month or early next year.

Muhyiddin said actions that were deemed seditious should be clearly defined by the Act, adding that ambiguity needed to be addressed to avoid any misinterpretation of the law.

Under the existing Act, criticism of government policies was also regarded as seditious, he explained.

"Perhaps that clause can be removed. People can criticise decisions made by the Government," he said.

"But any attempt to topple a democratically elected government should never be allowed to happen."

Muhyiddin, who is also Umno deputy president, said the Government would review its proposal to draft the National Harmony Act now that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has announced that the Sedition Act would not be abolished.

Last year a proposal to draft the Harmony Act was mooted, to replace the Sedition Act.

Bukit Aman welcomed the Prime Minister's decision to retain and strengthen the Sedition Act.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the Act was needed to curb those abusing the freedom of speech.

"We leave it to the Attorney-General's Chambers to look into the ways that the Act can be strengthened," he said at a press conference after launching a seminar on the Government's green initiative in Putrajaya yesterday.

Former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the Sedition Act must not be abused as a tool to maintain Umno's hold on power.

He said he supported any law that could help ensure that Malaysia was not destroyed by the irresponsible.

"However, in our passion to welcome the retaining of the Sedition Act I would like to remind Umno members that the Act is not a tool to be used to maintain Umno's power," he said in a statement posted on his blog.