KUALA LUMPUR: The announcement that the Sedition Act will not only be retained but be strengthened to protect the sanctity of Islam and other religions sent ripples among lawmakers in the Dewan Rakyat.
Datuk Othman Aziz (BN-Jerlun) supported Prime Minister Datuk Najib Tun Razak’s announcement to retain the Act.
“We need to remember that we live in a multi-racial country where peace and harmony has been maintained all this while through such laws,” he said when met at the Parliament lobby yesterday.
He said the law would be strengthened not only to protect Malays and the sanctity of Islam but also the other communities and religions.
Datuk Dr Makin Marcus Mojigoh (BN-Putatan) said the announcement was timely as there were views that sedition laws should be strengthened.
Segamat MP Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, who is also MIC deputy president, hoped that the amendments to the Act would focus on religious sensitive issues.
“The Prime Minister also assured that it would not be used against voices of dissent,” he said, adding that MIC would meet to discuss the developments.
Datuk Jailaini Johari (BN-Hulu Terengganu) said the announcement should quell voices of dissent which had been raised over the issue.
Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (PKR-Permatang Pauh) said Najib had succumbed to pressure from extreme views within Umno.
“The more progressive forces within the party have lost their case,” he added.
He said the Opposition would continue to voice its protest over the Sedition Act.
Datuk Mahfuz Omar (PAS-Pokok Sena) said Najib had broken his promise to repeal the Act for his own political survival owing to strong pressure from Umno.
Wong Chen (PKR-Kelana Jaya) said it would be a “dark, dark day” when the Act would be expanded, and this opened up chances for “a new crackdown”.
Gooi Hsiao Leung (PKR-Alor Star) questioned what would happen to the proposed National Harmony Act which was supposed to replace the Sedition Act.
Dr Ko Chung Sen (DAP-Kampar) said it was not only a U-turn by the Prime Minister but to strengthen the Act was “twice the tyranny”.
“We shouldn’t be using a draconian colonial law now that we are becoming a developed nation, approaching the year 2020,” he said.