An engagement session was held today to study the effectiveness of existing laws, the challenges faced by law enforcement agencies and to explore alternative legal approaches to handle the current issue of religion, race and royalty (3R).

It was held in Kuala Lumpur and attended by more than 50 representatives from government and non-governmental agencies, including the Royal Malaysia Police, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), Bar Council, civil society organisations, academicians and religious organisations.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the engagement session consisted of a Focus Group Discussion and a 3R Legal Dialogue on the 3R controversial issue.

The three main issues discussed were, whether Malaysia should repeal any existing legislation and enact new Acts; amend only certain laws; or maintain the status quo, she said in a statement.

With regard to the question of repealing existing laws to enact new ones, she said the session looked into whether the Sedition Act 1948 (Act 15) should be replaced by a new Act, which would define the offences in a more specific manner.

“The government could also consider a new criminal law or quasi criminal/civil law,” she said.

Azalina said the Unity Government supports the freedom of speech for all Malaysians as enshrined in Article 10(1)(a) of the Federal Constitution, in line with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and also takes into account that this freedom needs to be exercised responsibly.

She said, although there are current laws to deal with the issue, it must be acknowledged that they were enacted decades ago.

The existing laws include the Sedition Act 1948 (Act 15), Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (Act 301), Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (Act 588), Elections Offences Act 1954 (Act 5) and the Penal Code (Act 574).

“Therefore, the government intends to study the relevance of all the existing laws to ensure they are in tandem with current developments,” she said.

She said the government is aware of the rise in 3R cases recently and the challenges faced by the various agencies in enforcing the current laws.

Among the difficulties faced by the police and MCMC is the speed at which information is spread through the use of advanced technology, fake or hacked online accounts, anonymous accounts and Artificial Intelligence, which makes it harder to investigate and prosecute such offences, she said.

Azalina said the results of the Focus Group Discussion and 3R Legal Dialogue will be presented to the cabinet.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency