KUALA LUMPUR – “The government is no hooligan. We do not simply apprehend anybody without concrete proof and tangible evidence,” said Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
That was his reaction regarding the accusation that the government was using the Sedition Act 1948 to silence its critics, and that the government is coming down hard on the opposition in order to stay in power.
He said that despite all the criticisms made against the arrests and action taken on those who spread hate speeches, lies and slanders, Malaysians at large supported it because the people were well aware of the danger posed by these groups.
Speaking at the Umno International Forum 2014 entitled ‘Hyperconnectivity and the Social Media: Empowering citizens to build or divide a nation’, here today, Ahmad Zahid said Malaysia was under threat by those who used the Internet to spew lies, slander and hate speeches.
He said, unlike other countries, this country was not a single-raced country, and being a multiracial and multi-religious nation, government had to monitor Internet activities and put a check to such unpleasant deeds.
Ahmad Zahid, who is also Umno vice-president, said the government had to be strict in stamping out any element deemed to be disastrous to nation building.
He said, each and every Malaysian must observe the law, rules and regulations that bound them from making any provocative and racist statement as the consequences would be unbearable for everyone to take.
“We had learnt from the 1969 racial riot, and we had also learnt from several incidents involving communal and religious extremists. All these had summoned us to enact stringent laws to control the house from collapsing,” he said.
He added, in enforcing the laws, the government did not and would not be biased or in simple words, the government would not compromise anything when it came to national security and stability.
Ahmad Zaid, who is one of the speakers at the forum, also stressed that although the government agreed to repeal the Sedition Act and introduce a new act, some provisions of the Sedition Act had to be retained in order to make the new act stricter as a deterrence to those who tried to cross the line.
“In doing so, the government will take into account feedback and proposal from all sections of the community, including that of the opposition,” he said.
The forum, which was held in conjunction with the Umno General Assembly 2014, was officiated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at the Putra World Trade Centre, ealier today.
The two-day forum hosted some 127 foreign delegates from 34 political parties from 22 countries and diplomatic corps from almost 70 countries. – BERNAMA