SO, the Sedition Act has reared its little pimply head again. This time in relation with the Seafield temple riots.
This is all quite confusing to me because I thought there was a moratorium on the use of this archaic and undemocratic law.
However, news reports suggest the opposite with the men in blue reportedly investigating four cases under the Sedition Act.
Now, I will be the first to admit that I think some of those being investigated are highly unpleasant individuals. And yes, there is most definitely a frisson of schadenfreude that courses through me when I think that they may be getting their just desserts.
However, what is good for the goose must be good for the gander and what is bad for the good must be bad for the plonker.
If the police are investigating people under the Sedition Act, will it not be pointless if there is no prosecution under that law because it is the government’s policy not to use it? Would it not be wiser to simply start investigations using laws that we can guarantee will be enforced?
A quick perusal of the Penal Code shows several provisions that could be used against these thuggish fools.
There is Section 298A where uttering words designed to hurt members of a particular religious group can lead to one-year jail.
Or Section 503 and 504 which is about criminal intimidation and intentional insult with the objective to provoke a breach of the peace.
These offences, if found to have been committed, could lead to two years in prison.
Until we come up with a law against hate speech and hate crime, it is perhaps best to use the Penal Code for such things as opposed to the Sedition Act which can so easily be abused to quell genuine and peaceful dissent.
Let us be frank. There are some serious plonkers out there. Those who are intent to stir up racial problems for their own warped and nefarious reasons.
I don’t like them and I want them to be punished.
However, we have to keep the big picture in mind. The values of a nation must not be shaped by the brutal and the stupid. It must be shaped by principles of justice.
This being the case, using an unjust law, even against the unjust is not acceptable. There are other options available, use them instead.
Punish those who deserve it but in a way which respects the rule of law and democracy. Only in this way can we assure that our nation remains pure even if we have the filthy living amongst us.
Azmi Sharom (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a law teacher. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.
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