Sedition Act vital to maintain peace, says ex-IGP Hanif Omar

He says repealing it would merely satisfy the whims of a minority group at the expense of the majority


THE Sedition Act 1948 — which has been established since the colonial era — has its purpose in safeguarding the nation’s harmony and should not be repealed by the new government, former IGP Tun Mohammed Hanif Omar said.

Mohammed Hanif said even though the law dates back to British rule, it has been serving to protect the country’s peace in general and is not only targeted at a certain group of people.

He said Malaysians need to understand why the Act exists in the first place.

“The Act was established in tandem with the nation’s vision in the Constitution to ensure peace and justice in the multiracial society,” he told reporters at a press conference by the Malaysian Institute of Management (MIM) to announce the launch of the Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad Leadership Series (DMMLS) in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Mohammed Hanif said repealing the Act would merely satisfy the whims of a minority group at the expense of the majority. “On the other hand, the rest who disagree would have to bear the consequences — such as disorder,” he added.

Prior to its victory during the 14th General Election (GE14), the Pakatan Harapan coalition had promised to clamp down on rampant corruption and repeal “oppressive laws”.

Post-GE14, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said in October in Parliament that the Cabinet has decided to suspend the use of the Sedition Act, while a bill to repeal it altogether is being prepared.

Datuk Liew Vui Keong — the de facto law minister — also told Parliament in November that the Cabinet has agreed to scrap the death penalty, along with 32 death penalty offences found in eight of the country’s laws.

The decision covered Section 302 of the Penal Code, which pertains to murder; the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971; the Firearms Act 1960; the Kidnapping Act 1961; and the Armed Forces Act 1972.

Death penalties provided for under the Water Services Industry Act 2006; the Strategic Trade Act 2010; and the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 are also to be abolished.

Speaking on the recent tussle involving the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in USJ 25, Mohammed Hanif also disagreed with claims that it was racially motivated.

“It is purely a legal matter, nothing to do with racial issues,” Mohammed Hanif said.

He also applauded Dr Mahathir’s administration for being quick in addressing the matter before it got out of hand.

Meanwhile, on DMMLS which will be held on Dec 19, 2018, Mohammed Hanif said the first series of lectures will bring together distinguished national and international personalities from the government, industry, education and civil society.

The speakers are expected to share ideas and insights that could spark fresh thinking on global challenges and nation building.

“We recognise that the world is changing at an incredible speed and the old models of leadership might no longer apply.

“Given the magnitude, pace and complexity of change, MIM is committed to providing thought leadership around some of the most topical and crucial issues affecting us today,” Mohammed Hanif added.