Dogs, Syariah and defenders of the Sedition Act

Malaysia Sedition Act - Zunar


Why do Perkasa and others oppose repeal of the Sedition Act?

 The news that Perkasites want to retain the Sedition Act reminds me of a police dog.

Soon after black rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, a police dog needed to be retrained. It had been trained to attack blacks, during riots. When the U.S. finally gave blacks the same rights enjoyed by whites, many whites took to the streets. Many blacks countered them.

The mainly white police needed dogs to manage riots. More specifically, they now needed their dogs to attack people not on the basis of colour, but on the basis of behaviour. So, they set about re-training the dogs. After months of training, one dog decided what was needed of it.

The reliable, devoted and much-loved dog decided that henceforth, its masters wished it to attack whites. For the dog it was unimaginable that criteria other than race could explain behaviour.

Like that dog, some can only see in black and white. They see the world – not just Malaysia – as being made up of two types of people. The first type are Malays. The second type are non-Malays.

According to Perkasites, Malays are homogeneous and non-Malays are homogeneous. According to Perkasites, every waking moment of every non-Malay is spent plotting how to rob Malays of their special, Article 153 position in Malaysia. According to Perkasites, Malays who recognize the equal importance of equality before the law, Article 8, are misguided and need to be whipped into shape.

Unimaginable” is the key word Tan Sri Zaman Khan, chairman of the “integrity bureau” of a group which calls itself the Malay Consultative Council (MPM), is reported to have used when proclaiming MPM’s objection to the National Unity Consultative Council’s (NUCC) proposal to replace the Sedition Act with the Racial and Religious Hate Crimes Act.

It matters nothing to Zaman (a former CID director) and his ilk (which includes Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Rahman, a former Malaysia Airlines Chairman) that the committee which made the proposal did so after much study, and includes several Malay members.

I have intentionally rehearsed the positions these honoured men held, for they love to flaunt them.

They expect to be listened to more than others because of their positions and honours. They seem unable to believe wisdom may also spring from the young and un-titled – for example the Prophets of the world’s two largest religions.

Let’s consider our subject, the Sedition Act, a blunt instrument designed in 1948 by the British to quash dissent. The Act was amended in 1969, after the riots which were a coup d’etat against Tunku.

The Act as it now stands criminalizes questioning of some portions of the Federal Constitution. Clause 3(2)(f) makes it explicitly an offence to:

“question any matter, right, status, position, privilege, sovereignty or prerogative established or protected by the provisions of Part III of the Federal Constitution or Article 152, 153 or 181 of the Federal Constitution.”

Article 152 covers the National Language. Article 153 covers quotas for positions in the public services, seats in institutions of learning, permits, etc. for Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak. Article 181 covers the sovereignty of the Rulers.

If the news report is correct and Tan Sri Abdul Aziz did say the Sedition Act prevents Malaysians (Malays included) from questioning Malay “special rights,” he’s wrong.

The Constitution doesn’t provide Malays with special rights; it provides Malays with a “special position” – which allows the government, through the Yang Di Pertuan Agung, to discriminate in favour of Malays by giving them special preferences in Constitutionally prescribed matters.

The question Perkasites don’t ask is: what about other provisions in the Constitution?

For instance, Article 3 covers Islam and other religions. Article 4 declares the Constitution is the supreme law). Article 6 prohibits slavery and forced labour. Article 8 assures equality before the Law. Since these Articles are not listed in the Sedition Act, do these distinguished men claim is it okay to question the position of Islam, the supremacy of the Constitution, the prohibition of slavery and the principle of equality before the law? I think not.