Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s New Year Message

December 31, 2014

This is what the Prime Minister said in his New Year Message and I quote: “Our economy is on track to grow by 5.7% this year, and 4.7% in 2015. Our deficit is falling, our reserves are strong; we have trusted financial institutions, low unemployment, and record levels of foreign investment. Malaysia’s economy is well placed to weather any storms.” All I can say is that I hope our Prime Minister is right. For my part, I am less optimistic and so I urge Malaysians to be more realistic.  Let us be prepared since 2015 is likely to be a difficult year.  — Din Merican

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s New Year Message

Twelve months ago, in my New Year message, I looked forward to a ‘prosperous and united’ Malaysia. 2014 did bring prosperity for Malaysia – our economy grew strongly. But it was also the year we were united in grief.

In the space of a few months, we lost 93 Malaysians. And we found ourselves at the centre of the world’s attention – not once, but twice.

The disappearance of MH370, and the destruction of MH17, are part of our story now. My heart reaches out to those who lost loved ones; and I share their sorrow. Like so many Malaysians, my family too was touched by tragedy.

This has been the most challenging year of my career – and one of the most difficult years in Malaysia’s history. But I take heart from the way we came together, as one nation, to #prayforMH370 and #prayforMH17.

In mosques, churches and temples, in shopping malls and online, Malaysians responded to these tragedies as one. In the face of two unimaginable disasters, we found unity. I believe we will come out of these twin tragedies stronger and more determined. We have been tested by disaster, but the spirit of the nation remains strong.

I am proud of the way we responded to these crises. We did not get everything right, but when MH370 went missing, we were able to bring together 26 nations – including China and the US – in a search that spanned half the globe. When Malaysia asked, the world answered.

And a few months later, when we found ourselves in the middle of a conflict zone, Malaysia was able to get the breakthrough that no one else could – securing the return of the bodies and black boxes from MH17. Quiet diplomacy helped bring us closer to finding out what happened to MH17, and securing justice for those who died.

Najib and Obama in Hawaii

Najib: “We are used to floods in Malaysia. But I was shocked by how bad the situation became”.Really, Sir!

At the end of the year, we faced new challenges. Northern states suffered terrible flooding, with lives, homes and livelihoods lost to the rising waters.

We are used to floods in Malaysia. But I was shocked by how bad the situation became. The scale of the destruction was profound, with so many people going through intense personal suffering. The Government’s priority is to get help to people who need it now – with the supplies and assistance for those who are stranded or displaced – and financial support, so that people can get their lives back together.

An aerial view of flooded streets of the National Park in Kuala Tahan, Pahang

Next year, our priority is recovery: to rebuild the infrastructure, the businesses and the homes that were damaged or lost. We must ensure that the development we pursue is environmentally friendly, so that we are not making future floods more likely – or more damaging.

As we continue the rescue and rebuilding operations, I pray for those who are still at risk. And our thoughts are with our brothers and sisters in Indonesia, as they continue the recovery of Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501.

Yet amidst the tragedies, there were high points too. 2014 was also the year we celebrated the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations with China. In Beijing, I stood in the hall my father visited back in 1974, and pledged that China and Malaysia would remain ‘partners for prosperity; connected by history, and firm in our commitment to peace’.

We also welcomed a US President for the first time in five decades. Back in 1966, Lyndon B Johnson saw rubber plantations; President Obama met young Malaysian computer programmers and entrepreneurs. It is hard to think of a better example of Malaysia’s remarkable development.

Every year, our country grows in stature. And every year the outside world takes a greater interest in Malaysia – in our people, our history and our future. These trends are set to continue in 2015, as we assume a bigger role in our region, and the world.

Next year we will chair ASEAN, as we prepare to launch the ASEAN Community. This is a momentous time for ASEAN, for its member states, and for the people of South East Asia. In 2015, under Malaysia’s chairmanship, we will lay the foundations for deeper regional integration. For the people of ASEAN, this will mean more opportunities – with more jobs, and easier ways to do business.

In 2015, we will also hold a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Far from just a diplomatic badge of pride, this is a chance for Malaysia to state our support for key objectives – including a dignified and secure future for the Palestinian people – and make a real contribution to global security problems.

Clearly, Malaysia will play a much bigger part in world affairs in the year to come. It is important that we continue to be a positive player, pushing the issues that we care about, and representing our people, our interests and our businesses. That is the only way we can ensure that Malaysian and South East Asian voices are heard.

But despite all the global attention, my focus is on the rakyat. Next year, I hope we can build a safer, more prosperous, and more equal society. The starting point is security. My greatest responsibility as Prime Minister is to ensure the safety and security of the Malaysian people. In recent years we have seen increasing threats from terrorist groups within Malaysia. In addition to our existing programmes to combat terrorism, we have also introduced a new terrorism white paper.

We are also strengthening our co-operation with foreign intelligence agencies, because the threat of violent extremism goes way beyond our borders. The so-called Islamic State continues to try to tempt people to join their war. Although they have had most success recruiting from Western nations, some Malaysians have fallen victim to this propaganda.

Our position is quite clear. As I said at the UN General Assembly this year, ‘the actions of these militants… violate the teachings of Islam, the example set by the Prophet Mohammed, and the principles of Islamic law. We reject this so-called Islamic State. We reject this state defined by extremism. And we condemn the violence being committed in the name of Islam’.

Yet security for Malaysians is not just about protection from violence, but also about social and economic security. So in the year to come, I also want to focus on maintaining our economic record, and strengthening the bonds between our people.

In a globalised economy, risks can spread far and fast. No country is isolated from global events. We have already had a taste of the challenges that will come in 2015, with the falling oil price over the past few weeks affecting everything from the ringgit to rubber.

Cheaper oil is a double-edged sword. It makes some things cheaper for consumers, but it also reduces government revenues – money we spend on development and support for the people.

Other nations are facing the same challenges, and some are already under great stress. Yet Malaysia has been fortunate to escape the worst downsides – because the fundamentals of our economy are still strong.

Our economy is on track to grow by 5.7% this year, and 4.7% in 2015. Our deficit is falling, our reserves are strong; we have trusted financial institutions, low unemployment, and record levels of foreign investment. Malaysia’s economy is well placed to weather any storms.

In last year’s message, I talked about how we were getting our finances under control whilst the global economy was strong.I wrote that ‘by acting responsibly now, we will strengthen Malaysia’s economy in the long-term – and the benefits will be felt much more widely. By taking the steps needed to make Malaysia’s economy stronger, we are not only protecting our nation against financial crises, we are also opening up new jobs – and new opportunities’.

We need to be proactive, to build a resilient economy that is prepared for any eventuality. With global events causing problems for many countries, I am pleased that we have already taken measures to protect our economy. Just last week, the World Bank confirmed that Malaysia remains in a strong position precisely because we acted to rationalise subsidies.

But keeping economy resilient means constantly anticipating risks, and acting to strengthen the economy whenever possible. It is with this in mind that we are introducing the GST next year. The GST will replace, not add to, the existing sales tax – and many goods will be exempt. It will help strengthen the government finances, so that we can continue productive expenditure – on things like roads, schools and hospitals – for the benefit of the people. And alongside the GST, we will continue the reforms to make our economy more competitive, which will bring more opportunities for our businesses, and higher income for the people.

Although we are exposed to global risks, we have strong fundamentals, and clear and consistent government policy. So I am confident that Malaysia’s economy will continue to grow, and bring more jobs and a better standard of living.

Our challenge is to ensure that that applies for all Malaysians, not just a few. In the months and years ahead, I want us to focus not just on GDP growth figures, but on the lives and needs of the rakyat. Although Malaysia’s economic performance has been exceptional, I know that people do not always feel they are getting their piece of our national success.

So alongside our efforts to strengthen our economy – by raising incomes, reducing spending, and boosting productivity – we will also work to reduce inequality by narrowing the gap between the rich and poor.

Last year, I said I looked forward to a more prosperous and united Malaysia. Although this has been a difficult year, we have achieved both. In 2015, as we prepare to play a bigger role on the world stage, I want us to work together to build a safer, more prosperous, and more equal society. I wish you all the best for the year ahead.

Compassionate Najib cancels holidays in Hawaii due to Floods in Malaysia

December 26, 2014

READ THIS from The Washington Post: What Game is this Pro-Democratic Party tabloid (since the days of Philip Leslie “Phil” Graham and Katherine Graham’s friendship with John F. Kennedy) playing? Najib is a victim of US domestic politics.–Din Merican

Floods in Malaysia: PM Najib got the message and will return home after golfing with President Barack H. Obama in Hawaii

Dato’ Seri Najib Razak will return to Malaysia tomorrow to personally oversee the emergency response to Malaysia’s worst flooding in decades that has seen nearly 120,000 people evacuated, after a torrent of criticism about his golf round with US President Barack Obama.

A government spokesman said the Prime Minister will fly to Kelantan to chair a meeting and receive briefings from the National Security Council, the National Disaster Management and Relief Committee, the state government and local emergency responders.

The media statement said Najib will also meet people affected by the flooding and discuss new measures to support those who have been displaced.

Golf with Obama, Floods in Malaysia“I am deeply concerned by the floods”(?)

“I am deeply concerned by the floods. I feel for the people who have lost their homes, and the families who have lost loved ones.While I have been away, I have been in constant contact with the National Security Council and the National Disaster Management and Relief Committee, who have assured me that they are doing everything they can to help those who have been affected. But I want to see the situation for myself and be with the people,” Najib was quoted as saying in the statement.

Najib had come under heavy criticism, following news and pictures of him golfing with the US President in Hawaii, at a time the country was hit by severe floods.

“Najib’s rounds surprised some of his countrymen, who are calling on him to return home to deal with massive flooding that has displaced tens of thousands,” said the Washington Post in a report today.

The daily noted that Obama had also come under attack for playing golf after the beheading of American journalist James Foley by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) militant group.

Floods in Malaysia StatsYesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin defended his boss, and said he would monitor the flood situation while Najib took his “well-deserved” break.


Race Relations: Act Now before It’s too late

December 10, 2014

Race Relations:  Act Now before It’s too late

by Sonia

No religion in the world preaches hatred or violence and Islam is no exception.

However, one cannot deny that a recent spate of violence that has permeated most domains of the world press of late has been related to the group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) which aims to form a global caliphate.

One will also remember the infamous 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2011 that was attributed to Al-Qaeda terrorists which were also carried out in the name of Islam and their Muslim brothers.

Though Malaysia is spared such extreme acts of violence perpetrated in the name of religion, we too have not been spared some acts (not just Muslim ones) that have caused cracks in the nation’s wall of religious and racial harmony.

Din and Farouk MusaOne of the main factors towards this violence in the name of Islam is the influence of the extremists’ interpretation of the Quran, says Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) Chairman and Director Dr. Ahmad Farouk Musa.

One such widely distributed translation, said Ahmad Farouk, is the one by Dr Muhammad Taqiyuddin al-Hilali and Dr Muhsin Khan which is also informally known as the Hilali-Khan translation.

 “This translation creates a mindset that is hostile to people of other faiths. The whole translation is based on the “Theory of Abrogation” or “an-nasikh wal-mansukh” in Arabic.

“This English translation has misled Muslims and people of the other faiths with a translation that is out of context and has pitted Muslims against the rest of the world,” Ahmad Farouk said at a roundtable discussion on the topic “Is Islam a Religion of Peace?” organised by IRF on Dec 7.

This English translation, he said, was distributed to English-speaking Muslims who perform the Haj in Saudi Arabia as well as most mosques in the United States.Fears abound that it might also be distributed in Malaysia.

Ahmad Farouk, who is also a cardiothoracic surgeon, said the number of comments in parenthesis in the Hilali-Khan Quran is excessive and instead of clarifying the text or explaining a word or phrase that cannot be easily translated into English, the comments instead make the text difficult to follow and often distort the meaning.

“The appendices contain discussions of Christian versus Muslim beliefs that read more like a polemical debate and really do not belong as part of a translation,” said Ahmad Farouk.He illustrates his point by providing a few examples.

The Hilali-Khan translation of the Surah al-Fatihah (The Opening) (which is read 17 times a day) is as follows:

“Guide us to the straight way. The way of those whom you have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who have earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor those who went astray (such as the Christians).”

“This basically gives the impression that the Quran denounces all Jews and Christians. Obviously this is a great untruth.

“This translation is then followed by extremely long footnotes which justify this hateful message based on the traditions from the texts that go back to the Middle Ages (Ibnu Kathir, Qurtubi, at-Tabari) as if these are the only interpretations, and without any discussion on the history of these commentaries and the traditions on which they are based,” said Ahmad Farouk.

Another example Ahmad Farouk provides is the Surah Ali-Imran, which the Hilali-Khan translated version reads as:

“You (true believers in Islamic monotheism and the real followers of Prophet Muhammad and the Sunnah) are the best people ever raised up for mankind.”

A footnote to this verse explains the “best people” are those who “you bring with them with chains on their necks till they embrace Islam (and thereby save them from eternal punishment in hell-fire and make them enter paradise in the hereafter).”

“I believe that propaganda such as the Hilali-Khan Quran and other materials coming primarily out of Saudi Arabia are one of the major root causes feeding extremist ideas among Muslims and violence against churches and against minorities,” said Ahmad Farouk.

Closer to home, he said the problem with Malaysia is the Wahhabi (radical literalists) doctrine creeping into the government administration.

“This is especially so with the formation of Ulama Muda Umno (ILMU) which is comprised of 100 per cent Wahhabis and Salafis (literalists). Some of this Wahhabis are also in the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim).

“The government should really understand the threat of such doctrines that basically encourages a monolithic type of Islam that does not tolerate any differences in opinion, what more pluralism. The government should do something about this,” he told The Ant Daily.

Ahmad Farouk’s fears cannot be discounted with the growing number of Malaysians seeming to join the IS cause.

It was reported that the police are watching the Malaysian Armed Forces as several personnel have been detected to be IS sympathisers with two members apparently arrested in Kuala Lumpur late last month on suspicion of channelling funds to Malaysians joining IS militants in Syria.

A Royal Malaysian Navy officer was among three men arrested in Sabah in June for being part of a militant group planning to undertake suicide bombings in Syria and Iraq. As of November 13, 39 Malaysians had been identified as fighting alongside IS in Iraq and Syria with five reportedly killed.

On December 9, The Star reported that Malaysia’s second IS suicide bomber was identified as Ahmad Affendi Abdull Manaff from Tumpat, Kelantan who is believed to have driven a bomb-laden truck into a military installation in Homs, killing about 50 of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s soldiers.

Since Reuters reported that IS also announced intentions to bring Afghanistan, Pakistan and India under its control, Malaysia may not be too far away from its aspirations.

In view of all this, the government should start heeding Ahmad Farouk’s words as well as those penned by 25 prominent Malays who penned an open letter calling for a rational dialogue on the position of Islam in a constitutional democracy.

These prominent Malays include the former Home Affairs Secretary-Ahmad Kamil JaafarGeneral Tan Sri Datuk Abdul Rahim Din, former Foreign Affairs Secretary-General Tan Sri Ahmad Kamil Jaafar, former Health Ministry Director-General Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican, former Malaysian Bar President Hendon Mohamad and National Heart Institute (IJN) cardiothoracic surgeon and core-founder Tan Sri Dr Yahya Awang, who also happens to be Ahmad Farouk’s former boss.

 “…But we believe there is a real need for a consultative process that will bring together experts in various fields, including Islamic and Constitutional laws, and those affected by the application of Islamic laws in adverse ways.

“We also believe the Prime Minister is best placed with the resources and authority to lead this consultative process. It is urgent that all Malaysians are invested with finding solutions to these longstanding areas of conflict that have led to the deterioration of race relations, eroded citizens’ sense of safety and protection under the rule of law, and undermined stability,” said the 25 prominent Malays in their letter.

Before extremism becomes the order of the day and race relations deteriorate further, the government of the day must not only do something, but must also be seen to be doing something – before it is too late.

Where are we heading as Malaysians?

December 6, 2014

Where are we heading as Malaysians?

by Balan Moses

Balan-Moses-ENG NEW-1WHERE are we heading as a nation?

A culture of “offendedness” seems to be growing with some from the different races and religions getting offended at the slightest opportunity over real or imagined slights.

Police reports are lodged and statements issued to the media, sometimes exacerbating the situation and taking it to unexpected heights.

The thing that people are failing to understand is that things said in the heat of the moment cannot be withdrawn as the damage will have been done.

I feel that some Malaysians are failing to understand that we are all the same behind our different colours, creeds and mother tongues: we are human beings with the same wants and needs.

We want unity; we want peace; we want a stable future for our children; we want to go to sleep at night unafraid; we want to be able to smile at other Malaysians.

I believe there is a need for Malaysians to go back to that basic emotion called “love” for us to rally around one another as a nation.

The Youngbloods ran home the truth behind “love” in their 1967 song “Get Together” where they called on people to “….smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another, right now.”

I know it is corny to quote from songs but sometimes the lyrics hit the right spot.

Our situation can be likened to a marriage that is going through difficulties. It is easy to divorce one another but what of the interests of the children?

I believe this marriage between the various races and religions in Malaysia can be saved. But it is going to require a lot of effort and sincerity. It just requires resolve from all concerned to protect what is our common heritage as a nation and people.

There can be no winner take all and loser lose everything. Malaysians need to sit down and consider our history and what it has taken to being us to where we are right now as a people.

It does not matter where we came from geographically and when we came to this glorious nation called Malaysia. The debate will never end if we were to engage in this.

What is important is what we do here and now as it will decide the fate of the nation. We need to pull together as a people against external forces which may one day challenge our sovereignty as a nation be it politically, economically or socially.

A house divided will fall. At such crucial times, we need to be firmly united as one so that we can thwart these forces that will come against us. It will too late if we only decide to put aside our differences and coalesce when the threat is imminent.

The time is now for Malays, Chinese, Indians, Iban, Kadazan, Orang Asli and the hundreds of other groups that make up Malaysia to consider our situation in the history of time.

We cannot expect our children and our children’s children to unravel the complications that we put into motion now.Too much water would have flowed under the bridge and they may not have the wherewithal to deal with such matters at that point in time.

The authors of such complications should have the moral courage to resolve them right now and leave behind a Malaysia that is intact for generations to come.

If we engage in an eye for an eye, we are asking for a land of the blind and one-eyed.I feel that there are millions of moderates among Malaysians who do not subscribe to extreme views and who just want to live together peacefully.

They realise the wisdom of seeing the problem from the other person’s perspective, the need to give and take on contentious issues and most of all mutual respect. These are the founding principles when Malaya was born in 1957. There should be no going back on what was decided upon by the founding fathers.

Wiser and cooler heads have to prevail, especially on religious matters which are close to everyone’s hearts.

The Chinese couple that got married according to Malay tradition the other day touched me as it was a small but meaningful gesture that can go a long way to bring mutual understanding to two rich cultures.Is there more that we can do to help us understand each other better?

No Place for Sedition Act in Developed Malaysia

December 1, 2014

No Place for Sedition Act in Developed Malaysia

by Soon Li Tsin@

zunarThe Sedition Act in Malaysia reared its ugly head again with its recent probe of political cartoonist Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque, more popularly known as Zunar. This law, often described as ‘colonial,’ ‘draconian’ and ‘archaic’, continues to give Malaysia its rightful spot in the international news – all thanks to the slew of sedition investigations and charges this year.

Among those charged include Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, Shah Alam MP Khalid Abdul Samad, academician Azmi Sharom and activist Ali Abdul Jalil. Many others, like Zunar, are being questioned and investigated. The “offences” have been varied – ranging from calling UMNO celaka, questioning the executive powers of the Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS), criticisms about the monarchy and commenting on constitutional matters.

However, plenty of other countries, especially those from the Commonwealth still keeping this leftover law from our British colonial masters including Canada, India, Singapore and Hong Kong. What many don’t know is that the US has Sedition Acts too. You read right, plural – they have more than one.

First, there was the Sedition Act of 1798 that made it illegal to criticise the American government and punishable by fine and/or imprisonment if found guilty. President John Adams and the Federalists feared internal dissent and passed the law to effectively reduce opposition. This was repealed by Thomas Jefferson on grounds that the law restrained free speech.

On May 16, 1918, the US Congress passed another Sedition Act to supplement the Espionage Act created in the previous year. Both legislations were made to protect America’s participation in World War I. The Sedition Act imposed harsh penalties – up to $10,000 and/or 20 years imprisonment for ‘anyone found guilty of making false statements that interfered with the prosecution of the war; insulting or abusing the US Government, the flag, the Constitution or the military; agitating against the production of necessary war materials; or advocating, teaching or defending any of these acts’. Congress later repealed this law in 1921 on grounds that it contravened the fundamentals of America’s democracy.

The third and final attempt at creating seditious offences happened vis-à-vis the Alien Registration Act 1940. Popularly known as the Smith Act (named after its principal author, Democrat Congressman Howard W Smith of Virginia), it targeted ‘Trotskyites’, Nazi sympathisers, communists and socialists that were growing in number in America after World War II.

The Act cast a wide net too namely anybody “… with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so; or…organises or helps or attempts to organise any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of any such government by force or violence; or becomes or is a member of, or affiliates with, any such society, group, or assembly of persons, knowing the purposes thereof”.

Hundreds of people were prosecuted under this law between 1940 to 1956, a period of time encompassing the height of espionage between warring sides during World War II and the start of the Cold War.

It took a Supreme Court case in 1957 to rule that the First Amendment right to free speech protected radical and incendiary speech unless it posed a ‘clear and present danger’ that would lead to an overthrow of government. The decision effectively increased the burden of proof for the prosecution to show actual action to overthrow the government using violent, unlawful means.

The 14 communist leaders in that trial of Yates v. United States had their convictions reversed and retried in the district courts. By middle-1962, the last of the convicted communists finished serving their jail term and some had their sentences commuted by President John F Kennedy. The Smith Act may still be in existence today but it is mostly seen as a relic from the Cold War.

So what does this mean for Malaysia? There is no space for sedition for a country wanting to achieve developed nation status by 2020. It needs to take leaf from the UK that had abolished criminal libel and sedition just four years ago in 2010. Then Justice Minister Claire Ward had described sedition as “arcane” and that the freedom of speech is the “touchstone of democracy”. How has this been for them? The British monarchy and government are both still standing, and the union hasn’t gone up in flames.

Malaysia already has existing laws and processes in place that allows for individuals or groups of people to pursue civil legal action if they feel they have been wronged. The question is how brave, or rather, how scared is the government of the day to not use sedition as a law to stifle free speech and freedom of expression? Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak has previously promised to do away with the Sedition Act 1948 and replace it with a National Harmony Act but looking at the current state of affairs, this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Without the ability to speak and express themselves freely, the only way disenchanted Malaysians can vent their frustrations will be at the ballot box. Perhaps losing a few more seats, states and even federal power will be real wake-up call that Malaysians deserve to have their voices heard especially on hard-hatting issues on race relations, religion, monarchy and governance without fear of being prosecuted.

Soon Li Tsin lives in the US and tweets as @polytikus.


UMNO cannot use the Sedition Act to stay in power, says Tun Abdullah

November 27, 2014

UMNO cannot use the Sedition Act to stay in power, says Tun Abdullah

–saya mendengar pendapat dan cadangan daripada Timbalan Presiden, Wanita,Pemuda, Puteri, usul-usul daripada bahagian, keresahan suara-suara akar umbi, serta pandangan-pandangan NGO, maka dengan ini saya sebagai Perdana Menteri memutuskan bahawa Akta Hasutan 1948, akan terus dikekalkan.

Malah, akta ini bukan sahaja akan dipertahan, tetapi akan diperkuat dan diperkukuhkan lagi sekurang-kurangnya dalam 2 perkara. Pertamanya, kita akan masukkan peruntukan khas untuk melindungi kesucian agama Islam, bahkan agama-agama lain juga tidak boleh dihina.

Keduanya, kita akan mengenakan tindakan keras ke atas sesiapa yang cuba menghasut supaya Sabah dan Sarawak keluar dari Malaysia. Ertinya lagi, apa-apa jua perkataan, perbuatan mahupun ucapan yang bersifat menghasut serta menghina Islam, Melayu dan Raja-Raja akan kita halang dan kita tentang habis-habisan.”–Najib Tun Razak on the Sedition Act 1948 at the 2014 UMNO General Assembly

Amid UMNO’s jubilant greeting over the retention of the Sedition Act 1948, former Party President and Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi warned that the law should not be abused to help the party stay in power.

abdullah badawi2UMNO needs People’s Support to stay in Power

Writing in his blog soon after his successor Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced a U-turn on his promise to repeal the act, Abdullah reminded UMNO members that the party could only stay in power with the people’s support.

“In our enthusiasm to retain the Sedition Act, I remind UMNO members that the act is not to be used to keep UMNO in power. UMNO’s power and strength comes from the people’s support. Remember, if the people no longer support us, there is no law on God’s earth that can save Umno from losing power,” Abdullah said.

The former Prime Minister, however, agreed with the decision to retain the colonial-era law. He also noted the enthusiasm with which UMNO delegates had shown when Najib said the act would remain in his policy speech earlier today.

“I support the decision to retain or amend any laws that protect national harmony, that uphold our constitution, that affirm the social contract forged by our forefathers.And that ensures that the federation of Malaysia is not destroyed by irresponsible people. All this, I support,” he said before stating his caution.

At the UMNO General Assembly, Najib had said the Sedition Act would not only be retained, but strengthened with amendments to protect the sanctity of Islam, curb insults against other religions and to punish anyone who called for the secession of Sabah and Sarawak from Malaysia.

Najib said he decided this after considering feedback from UMNO Deputy President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Wanita UMNO, Pemuda UMNO,Puteri UMNO, the grassroots, as well as non-governmental organisations.

“Hence I, as the Prime Minister, decided that the Sedition Act 1948 will remain,” he said, amid roars of approval from the delegates gathered at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

He said this was UMNO’s wish, adding that he believed their friends in Barisan Nasional (BN) would be with them. Gerakan President Datuk Mah Siew Keong, however, issued a nuanced protest in a statement this afternoon, noting public dissatisfaction over the abuse of the act against academics and public intellectuals.

“Gerakan’s fervent hope is that the Sedition Act will eventually be replaced with a comprehensive National Harmony Act. The new framework must include a set of punitive and positive measures to ensure societal stability but at the same time promotes national unity and harmony,” he said.

Noting the “long struggle” of 20 years to repeal the Internal Security Act, Mah said he believed a repeal of the Sedition Act would be done “when all parties are ready and open minded”.

“In line with the growing tide of democratisation, I believe this will eventually happen. In the meantime, I urge the authorities to act without fear and favour and do not abuse the Sedition Act to silence legitimate political dissent.”

Mah noted that the failure to charge PERKASA President Datuk Ibrahim Ali over the call to burn the Malay language Bibles had fuelled perceptions that the act has not been used in a fair and just manner.