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Malaysia outlines plans to crack down on “hate speech” online

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The Malaysian MP for the Parit Buntar constituency in Perak, Datuk Seri Dr. Mujahid bin Yusof Rawa said that there may be a “hate speech” element that might be included in the Sedition Act by the end of this year. Currently, the official in charge of religious affairs, the MP said that it was high time Malaysia enacted laws regarding hate speech, particularly online.

Mujahid, who also happens to be the chairman of law and policy in the National Unity Consultative Council, said that he had attempted to introduce a hate speech element through a bill previously, but that their proposal did not proceed forward.

“We have made the proposal. We consulted with the public and had interactions with political parties and NGOs to introduce the National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill, but our proposal did not make it.

When the new government took over, I personally felt that it should take up the task in order for us to bring that Bill forward,” said Mujahid.

It was revealed that discussions with the new government may have been fruitful and that the hate speech element would be a part of the amendments made to the Sedition Act. He further added that a commission would be set up and the hate speech element would be included by the end of this year.

According to the MP, despite the presence of a penal code for addressing issues of hate speech and incitement, the country would still require an exclusive law dealing with hate speech.

He said that there were several laws that concern matters such as race relations and religious hate, but “there needs to be specific amendments to address the problem individually rather than looking into laws which cover a bigger scope,” said the MP.

Mujahid also highlighted the fact that hate speech must be clearly defined, and that freedom of speech should also come with “freedom of responsibility”. He further added that any form of freedom that leads to misuse and spreading of hatred with regard to aspects such as race or religion must be considered an abuse of freedom of speech.

In the last year alone, Mujahid had actively participated and proposed three bills concerning issues such as racial and religious hate. Several critics, however, argue that the laws concerning hate speech may turn out to be archaic, and need to be amended or banned, according to The Star.

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