Najib’s Announcement Not Relevant If Court Decides Sedition Act Invalid

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s decision to retain the Sedition Act 1948, does not automatically makes the Act permanent because its legitimacy in the constitution is still being decided by the courts. Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, said if the courts decide that the Sedition Act is not valid, then Najib’s decision to retain the Act becomes irrelevant.

“Najib’s announcement will have no effect if the court decided that the Sedition Act is invalid,” Gobind said when met by Astro AWANI. Lawyer Yusmadi Yusoff, said although the court will soon decided on the validity of the Sedition Act 1948, the decision will not prevent Najib from obtaining a new ‘mandate’ in Parliament, by creating a new version of the Act.

Yusmadi said, if the court decides that the Sedition Act is invalid, Najib may create ‘Sedition Act 2.0’. “We have to remember the court is set to decide only on the Sedition Act 1948. Najib can still create a new version of the Act,” he said. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced during his keynote address at the 68th Umno General Assembly on Thursday that the Sedition Act 1948 will be maintained and strengthened.

He added the amendments to the Act will be tabled at the upcoming Dewan Rakyat session. The prime minister also wanted the police and the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to strictly enforce the law after the amendments had been approved. In another development, the Federal Court will determine the constitutionality of the Sedition Act challenge brought by Universiti Malaya law professor Dr Azmi Sharom.

On September 17, Azmi filed an application, saying that Section 4 was unconstitutional and violated Article 10 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech. Under Article 128 of the Federal Constitution, only the Federal Court has the power to determine whether a law passed by Parliament or state assemblies was valid and enforceable.

The questions to be determined by the apex court are whether section 4 (1) of the Sedition Act is against Article 10 that guarantees freedom of speech and expression, and against Article 4 on the supremacy of the constitution. The Federal Court would also have to determine whether the Sedition Act is valid and has been given effect by Parliament.

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