KUALA LUMPUR: While the government has no intention to restrict freedom of speech, it will not hesitate to take action against those who abuse it, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The warning was issued when the Prime Minister took to the floor under Standing Order 14(1i) in the Dewan Rakyat to brief lawmakers on the recent riots at the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in USJ 25 on Monday (Nov 26).
Dr Mahathir said the government has promised not to curtail the freedom in communication and news reporting, but such freedom should be used in a responsible manner.
"It should not be used to fan flames that could bring disunity or a split in racial harmony.
"It is also not the time to point fingers at anyone. The police have been given the responsibility to control the peace and conduct investigations.
"The wrong will be wrong and will face the law," said Dr Mahathir in his speech on Thursday (Nov 29).
He also said that it is not the government's intention to punish anyone blindly, but democracy has its limits and everyone must understand its limitations.
"No one can act according as they please, break the law and give rise to unrest among the rakyat and cause chaos in the country.
"The right and freedom of speech does not mean a person can say whatever that is deemed provocative," said Dr Mahathir.
The premier said that the Pakatan Harapan government has just taken over the administration, as such, there would be some discrepancies that is preferred by certain parties.
However, such matters can be overcome if the rakyat understand the actual background of the incident and not merely base it on rumours.
"It is vital for us to realise that the safety and stability of the country is a collective responsibility.
"Together, we must work to maintain this peace.
"I urge everyone not to take any action or issue any provocative statements that could cause unhappiness to any parties," he added.
Dr Mahathir said the government has left this matter to the authorities and reminded that everyone should be careful when they issue statements or share any news on the incident.
"There has already been false news and information being spread.
"To politicians as well as non-governmental organisations and others, do not try to make the situation more murky," he said.
Dr Mahathir reminded that the government will uphold the rule of law and will take action against anyone who flout the law for their own importance.
The government, he said, will not compromise and will act according to the law to ensure the harmony and peace of the country are not taken for granted by anyone.
"I want to stress once again that this is not a racial issue, nor is it related to religion but criminal action that should not be given any room to ruin the relationship among the races in the country," he said.