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Malaysia will have a law on hate speech this year

The authorities seem to believe there is widespread dissemination of provocative statements online but there is no way they can act or stem the rise of this phenomenon without a 'hate speech' element in the laws

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Malaysia plans to add a hate speech element in the existing Sedition Act in an attempt to stem the rise of hate speeches particularly on social media.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dr Mujahid Yusuf Rawa said he hopes it will be ready by this year.

He also says the government is planning to set up a Commission of National Harmony and Reconciliation.

Mujahid is in charge of religious affairs at the ministry and is also chairman of law and policy in the National Unity Consultative Council. He says the laws are to deal directly with hate speech.

Mujahid said after discussions with NGO’s and political parties, it was agreed that a hate speech element would be included in amendments to the Sedition Act.

The parties are still in discussions on the Commission of National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill. This commission will play the role of proactively educating, propagating (harmony) and mediating racial or religious sentiment, he said.

He said the Pakatan Harapan government believes the country needs a special law that should be the framework of governing hate speech.

This is because, in terms of race relations and religious hate, there need to be specific amendments to address the problem individually rather than looking into laws which cover a bigger scope.

The rise of hatred between race and religion in Malaysia is now commonplace, he said, especially if we look into what is being said on social media,” he said to The Star.

In the last few weeks, a series of events that sparked an unprecedented level of racial disharmony in the country rocked Malaysia.

The authorities seem to believe there is widespread dissemination of provocative statements online but there is no way they can act or stem the rise of this phenomenon.

Hence the need to amend the Sedition act and include the ‘hate speech’ element. -/TISG

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