Nancy promises free speech rights will remain


(Bernama) – Freedom of expression in Sarawak and Sabah will still be protected as enshrined under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 once the proposed amendments to the Sedition Act 1948 come into force, Nancy Shukri promised today.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said those who alleged that the proposed amendments would silence vocal critics of the federal government should do their homework first before making baseless accusation.

“Even now you (the media) can read and see all the nasty things being said about the government like on Facebook, which shows that the freedom of speech still exists,” she said after launching the 50th anniversary of the Sarawak Women’s Federation Miri-Bintulu, here today.

Even the mainstream media such as The Star constantly criticised the government although some of the criticisms were based on inaccurate stories, but the government was still lenient.

“We cannot satisfy everybody but we still have to look after the interest of the people at large, that includes the minority in our country,” she said adding that it was normal for any organisation or individual to be dissatisfied with the government on certain issues.

The proposed amendment would be tabled in Parliament in the March sitting that included the provision to take action against those who called for the secession of Sarawak and Sabah.

However, legal experts from Sarawak and Sabah this week have argued that the proposed amendments could have far-reaching implications as they involved the rights of Sarawak and Sabah as stipulated under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and could be challenged in the court of law.

It was alleged that once the amendments were enforced Sarawakians and Sabahans would be banned from voicing their rights in line with the agreement to express unhappines over allegations of unequal treatment by the federal government.

Nancy further said the rights of Sarawak and Sabah would be protected always as both states had special ministerial committees at the federal level to discuss and solve any problem that affected local communities.

“For example, we have successfully removed the ‘others’ column in government forms and replaced it with ‘bumiputera’, we have been fighting for it for so long and managed to get it. Do not worry, there are many things we (ministers from Sarawak and Sabah) will try to solve, sometimes we do not publicise them in the local media but in the end the rights of both states would always be protected,” she added.