Dr M: Sedition Act not there to be abused

23 Apr 2015 / 20:29 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sedition Act should not be used by the government to silence dissidents in order for it to remain in power.
Former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said, although the Act is necessary for safeguarding national harmony, it should not be abused for the interest of any group.
"Laws are meant to limit things you are free to do and all laws are like that ... it is the same with the Sedition Act," he said.
"Unfortunately, there is a tendency to abuse the law. It is a good Act if directed at sedition (offences).
"But sometimes, they (the authorities) translate sedition as saying 'so and so' is not popular. That is not sedition," he said during a question and answer session at the Malaysia Social Media Week at Berjaya Times Square here.
Mahathir said there were many arrests made by the government under the Act to silence critics when it should have been used only against those disrupting national harmony.
"But if you say the government is not doing well and needs a change of leader, that is not seditious," he said, which received loud applause from the participants.
Earlier in his speech, Mahathir said there is a need to apply social media censorship in order to block inappropriate content from being disseminated to the public.
Mahathir said social media is akin to a knife, where it could be used to carve beautiful works but could also turn into a deadly weapon if abused.
"I feel censorship of social media is needed ... to block filth in the internet," he said.
"Today, using certain keywords, can enable anyone to access any information necessary, including developing a bomb to throw at Malaysia's embassies," he added.
When asked who should regulate censorship on social media, Mahathir jokingly replied the Prime Minister, which drew laughter from the participants.
"Sorry. Slip of my tongue," he said.
"We need a very neutral person to do the censorship," he added.
Later when asked by reporters at the end of the event if he has any plan to meet Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, Mahathir replied "No".
"It is up to him (Najib) whether he wants to listen to my comments or not," he said.


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