'Discussing 3R okay if for improvement' - Lawyer

Clearer Sedition Act definition needed to protect free speech in Malaysia

26 Mar 2024 12:30pm
 Haniff Khatri - FILE PIX
Haniff Khatri - FILE PIX

SHAH ALAM - A prominent lawyer has argued that any amendments to the Sedition Act 1948 must include a clearer definition of "sedition."

Senior lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla said the amendment should specify that speaking about religion, race, and royalties from the perspective of improvement and offering suggestions should not be considered sedition.

He suggested that the government should include a clause stating that anything raised scientifically to correct facts or provide views on policies should not be considered seditious.

He said that such action was necessary because it happened in the case of academician Dr Teo Kok Seong, who issued a statement that vernacular schools or national schools were among the causes of racial division in Malaysia today, while he spoke based on his scientific research.

"So, politicians like Seputeh MP Teresa Kok who raised in Parliament for Dr Teo to be investigated... That is sedition and Teresa should be investigated, but she is lucky because she spoke in Parliament and has immunity.

"If Teresa spoke outside of Parliament, she should be investigated by the authorities for issuing seditious statements. So, I hope the government does not misuse this act," he said.

Haniff stressed the need for a clearer definition of sedition within the Sedition Act.

He considered the act can serve a purpose in maintaining national harmony, but only if not wielded as a tool for stifling free speech or political dissent.

"The act is still applicable for public order, maintaining harmony among races, religions, and preserving the institution of the monarchy, as long as it is not misused by the government for political warfare and obstructing freedom of speech," he said.