Our maturing democracy, as shown by last year’s peaceful transition to a new government, can be further enhanced when we take freedom of speech seriously and intelligently.
Generally, laws on hate speech are aimed at those who incite hatred, unrest, violence and harm against others.
In our thriving multi-ethnic society, people intending to cause harm should not be allowed to hide behind the free speech banner.
Arguably, the 70-year-old Sedition Act needs to replaced with a new law that can provide a better balance between protecting freedom of speech with the need to safeguard our nation from malicious or hateful rhetoric.
Perhaps something like a new National Harmony Act can be enacted to strive for this acceptable balance.
Stakeholders including the Attorney General, experts on human rights, lawyers, academics and non-governmental bodies must be closely consulted to deal with this key issue of balancing hate speech with freedom of speech and expression.
We need to heed the wise warning that “freedom of expression without limits is like a car without brakes”.
SZE LOONG STEVE NGEOW
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