Posted by Unknown | Posted on 11:32 PG
Posted: 18 Jul 2013 09:08 AM PDT
Free Malaysia Today
July 18, 2013
Abolishing the Sedition Act would threaten the position of the Malay Rulers, the Parliament Speaker says, despite Najib Tun Razak's pledge to have the act repealed.
KUALA LUMPUR: The Private Member's Bill Nurul Izzah Anwar filed to bring an end to the Sedition Act 1948 has been rejected by the Speaker on the grounds that the act's abolishment would threaten the position of the Malay Rulers.The Parliament Speaker, in a letter to Nurul yesterday, said that abolishing the Sedition Act would also mean abolishing its subsections, which touched upon the position of the Kings."…abolishing [this act] especially subsection 3(1)(f) will result in the act of questioning the special position of the Malay Rulers no longer becoming seditious," the letter, signed by Pandikar Amin, reads.
"I also understand that Act 38(4) of the Federal Constitution states that no law that touches upon the position of the Malay Rulers can be approved without agreement from the Conference of Rulers."
This has prompted Nurul to question whether Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was aware of this clause when he announced last year that the government would replace the controversial act with the National Harmony Act.
"Does this mean that Najib is unaware of the procedure and mechanisms related to any Act before it is repealed?" the PKR vice-president asked at a press conference in the Parliament lobby today.
"Why didn't he realize there were such requirements before making a public announcement to Malaysians on July 2012 that he would abolish the Sedition Act?" she said.
The government has received widespread flak for wielding the Act primarily on Opposition Leaders and activists critical of Barisan Nasional as recently as May this year.
Give us a copy
Speaking at the same press conference, Batu MP Tian Chua, who has been made a "victim" of the Act, said it was obvious that the Prime Minister had not done his research before announcing the repeal.
Meanwhile, Nurul urged the government to provide all parliamentarians with a draft of the Act, given the contradictory statements issued by the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers on the matter.
Najib had reaffirmed yesterday his year-old pledge that the Act would be replaced with the National Harmony Act, but Home Minister Zahid Hamidi has consistently voiced out his reservations on the matter.
Ahmad Zahid had told reporters earlier this month he wanted the Act retained so that the special rights of Malays, the status of Malay rulers, the status of Islam as the Federal religion and the status of Bahasa Melayu as the national language were not questioned.
"I will not compromise if there are parties who want to touch on any of these four main aspects of the Constitution.
"Those who do, must be charged under the existing Sedition Act 1964," Ahmad Zahidi had said on July 9.
Nurul said today: "In the end, we are all talking about an act whose contents no one even knows for sure of. How can we have engagement over the issue when even the MPs don't have a copy of the Act?
"The next Parliament session is in September, so the government has no excuse not to provide a copy of the bill to all MPs," she said.
Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:13 AM PDT
Written by Malaysia Chronicle
MP for Lembah Pantai Nurul Izzah dropped two bombshells on Thursday, the last day of the first session of Parliament following the May 5 general election.
The first was that her Private Members’ Bill filed to repeal the Sedition Act had been rejected by Pandikar Amin Mulia, the Speaker of the House, on the grounds that she had not obtained the consent of the Council of Rulers for her motion.
According to the written reply from Pandikar, the permission of the Council of Rulers was needed as the repeal of the Sedition Act would include the removal Sub-section 3(1)(f) which states the special rights and sovereignty of the Rulers as guaranteed under Clause 181 of the Federal Constitution.
The second bombshell was that Prime Minister Najib had also committed the same “omission” when he announced in July, 2012 his plan to replace the Sedition Act with the National Harmony Act.
As Nurul pointed, Najib not only failed to mention the need to get the Rulers’ consent, he has not made any move to obtain it although more than a year has passed and his Cabinet had just a week ago reiterated their wish to repeal the Sedition Act.
Such a misstep could throw a spanner into the works, warned Nurul,and leave the fate of the plan to repeal the oppressive law hanging.
It would also waste two years of “precious time”, she added, pointing out that her motion was launched only earlier this month on July 1 versus Najib’s effort which was announced in 2012 but with homework done a year before that. The Internal Security Act and the Emergency Ordinance were repealed in 2011 and the Sedition Act remains the sole major piece of oppressive and archaic legislation left in the Malaysian stable of laws.
“As we know, the Prime Minister promised Malaysians in July 2012 the Sedition Act will be abolished to be replaced by a National Harmony Act that no one knows the contents of till today. I submitted on Jul 1, 2013 a bill to abolish the Sedition Act which was replied to by the Speaker today. To my disappointment, the Speaker cited that the removal or abolition of the Sedition Act will also take away the law that will take away the rights of the King and since I have not received the approval of the Majilis Raja Raja, I cannot proceed with its abolition,” she told Malaysia Chronicle at the sidelines of a press conference in the Parliament lobby on Thursday.
“I am quite shocked to see Prime Minister Najib has been really rather tardy in doing his work. As the PM, I would expect him to know the mechanism that would need to take place before you can actually abolish the Sedition Act for example. And if he has not brought to the Majilis Raja Raja, how did he come to the position that he did when he announced its abolition in 2012. This is a serious matter as we depend on our prime minister our steward and leader to fulfill his promises and really increase and enlarge the democratic space in this country in line with the results of the last election results and with his own transformation agenda.
“So, no excuses, we want to see a copy of the National Harmony Act, the new bill that he announced to replace the Sedition Act. We don’t want another session where we have a new bill submitted 3 days before discussion and debate only to have it revoked. We must ensure thorough discussion and debate takes place before any bill is brought to this august House.”
The inside story:
Although Nurul declined to directly say so, a check with some political insiders showed that many in the Opposition believe the BN could not think of a better way to reject Nurul’s bill and hence trotted out the often-used ‘sorry, Rulers’ consent needed’ ruse to throw cold water on her effort.
Among the key reasons why Nurul had submitted her Private Members Bill was to pressure the snails-paced Najib into keeping his promise to repeal the Sedition Act. She had wanted to show that abolition of a law was not as complex and should take as long a time as Najib was taking.
"Previously, I tabled a bill to abolish the Emergency Ordinance. It was rejected but six months later the government abolished the ordinance," Nurul had said at the same Parliament lobby on July 1, 2013. The sitting had begun on June 25, 2013 and ends today, July 18.
“Normally, a Private Member’s Bill (tabled by the opposition) will not see the light of day. But this is something (the Sedition Act) that the government itself has pledged to do.”
All eyes are now on how Najib will wriggle out from the BN’s self-created corner.
“At the same time by doing this, they are also putting Najib in a tight spot. He will now have to find an excuse as to why he can be allowed by Pandikar to push his repeal through while Nurul was rejected,” the insider told Malaysia Chronicle.
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