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KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak tonight announced that the Sedition Act 1948 will be repealed and replaced with a new act to be known as the National Harmony Act.
The decision to repeal the act was to find a mechanism that could ensure the best balance between the need to guarantee the freedom of speech for every citizen and the need to handle the complexity of plurality existing in the country, he said at the dinner of the Attorney-General's Chambers with the Prime Minister at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here.
"With this new act we would be better equipped to manage our national fault lines. It will also help to strengthen national cohesion by protecting national unity and nurturing religious harmony," he said.
Also present were the Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Dr Ali Hamsa and Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail.
Najib said that the absence of an ideal balance could suppress the freedom of speech which was guaranteed by the Federal Constitution, hinder one's creativity and innovativeness or promote the spirit of chauvinism and extremism.
He said the balance must be achieved in a more open social environment with access to information which could lead to information overflow, an increasing standard of education and socio-economy and rising expectation.
"The provisions proposed in the National Harmony Act will stress on inculcating the spirit of harmony and mutual respect in the Malaysian society made up of various races and religions," he said.
He said the new bill would be more specific in nature and would enable the government to act against anyone using sensitive issues to break up national solidarity.
The Prime Minister said the government would ensure that the provisions of the new act would not hinder the power to tackle acts that could cause hatred and humiliation or stoke the feelings of disloyalty to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or any Ruler.