Sunday, September 18, 2005

Sedition Act to be Reviewed

The Government is reviewing the Sedition Act to see if it needs to be strengthened or renewed.

Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng, who is also the Home Affairs Minister, said the Government had to take anyone who tries to stir racial, religious hatred against one another very seriously.

Mr Wong said: "The MHA would be reviewing, together with the Law Ministry and the Attorney-Chambers on the various legislations that we have, that will deal with situations where racial, religious hatred will be incited, where invocation of acts of terror, for example, can be said in the net or anywhere."

He said the penalty in the Sedition Act might have been outdated, as it was last reviewed many years ago.
[Source: Channel NewsAsia, 17/09/2005]

Singapore reviewing the Sedition Act is scary, particularly because of the accompanying comments. While I suppose "penalty in the Sedition Act might have been outdated" is neutral, and means that the penalty may be increased or decreased, the latter seems unlikely - apparently a maximum sentence of a fine or S$5000 and 3 years imprisonment is not particularly scary. Taken together with the first portion of the statement, that " the Government had to take anyone who tries to stir racial, religious hatred against one another very seriously," things don't look good.

Of course, it might that Singapore is bowing to "pressure" to charge suspected criminals under appropriately named Acts.

In any case, because Singapore really respects the rule of law, these three bloggers (and anyone else who makes racist/seditious comments before the law actually changes) can take heart that their maximum sentence will be a fine or S$5000 and 3 years imprisonment. Of course, because the courts have discretion within that range, it makes it rather likely that something near the maximum sentence will be imposed.

All links in this post (apart from the CNA link) point to Mr Wang... he's got the best coverage of the third seditious blogger available. [and Mr. Wang - you know that you can change your web address if you want to right? I know you think Commentary Singapore is rather boring, so why don't you go ahead and do that :D]