3R issue: New Act should be more educational than punitive, say lawyers

13 Jul 2023 09:09pm
Photo for illustrative purposes only - 123RF
Photo for illustrative purposes only - 123RF
KUALA LUMPUR - The government's proposal to create a new act to punish those who play up 3R (religion, race, and Rulers) sentiments should be more educational in nature and not merely punitive, say legal experts.

Lawyer Datuk Khairul Anwar Rahmat said the act should outline the way of living as a nation, with the aim to approach and educate the community to understand one another, as well as appreciate and learn to live together.

"Malaysia is a multi-racial and multi-religious country and the Royal Institution as its pillar, requires legal provisions that are not only punitive but also educational.

"Therefore, the act that the government wants to propose should be a bulwark for the country to avoid conflicts among the races and religions.

"Under this new act, the government can solve offences involving the 3R issue faster and more effectively than using the Sedition Act or the Penal Code," he said when contacted by Bernama today.

According to Khairul Anwar, apart from fines, offenders could also be ordered to do community service and undergo a special module on good citizenship.

Yesterday, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the new law, which may be called the ‘State and Nation Act’, was similar to the Maintenance of Racial Harmony Act in Singapore but in the Malaysian context.

Azalina said the proposal to create the new act had been presented to the Cabinet and received a positive response.

Meanwhile, lawyer Mohd Faiz Fahmy Abdul Razak said the proposed act could help control sensitive issues, especially with regard to the right to freedom of expression in the country.
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He said if there was no regulation regarding the 3R issue, any party would be free to play up such sentiments for personal gain.

Lawyer Fahmi Abd Moin, meanwhile, said the government should be more proactive and strict in using existing laws without 'fear or favour' in dealing with the 3R issue, no matter if the individuals involved were politicians, ministers, or members of the public.

"We have the Penal Code, the Sedition Act, the Communications and Multimedia Commission Act which clearly have specific sections to bring any individual to court and if there is clear evidence of a violation with regard to the 3R issue," said the lawyer.

Lawyer Datuk Geethan Ram Vincent concurred, saying existing laws such as the Sedition Act were sufficient and they need to be enforced against perpetrators regardless of their rank or position.

"Anyone who makes 3R-related statements that are seditious in nature should have action taken against them, including politicians. In addition, appropriate punishment should be given so that it becomes a deterrent to all parties," he said. -Bernama

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