KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia will be "in ruins" if the powers bestowed upon authorities by the Sedition Act are abolished, said Umno Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin.
In his speech during the Umno Youth Wing launch on Wednesday at the 68th Umno General Assembly, Khairy argued that elements within the Sedition Act function as "armour" against disharmony, The Star reported.
"To the leadership in Government, Umno Youth urges that no matter what happens to the Sedition Act, with whatever new name that it assumes, we want the powers vested in this law to be retained in some ways as a shield for all. Without it to protect us, the nation would be in ruins," Khairy said.
There have been numerous calls of late to repeal the controversial Sedition Act under which dozens of people were arrested this year for speaking up against the judiciary, government and monarchs.
Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had given his assurance that any decision, whether to maintain, abolish or replace the Sedition Act would not be rushed and would take into account views from across the country.
Also voicing support for the Sedition Act, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said there is a need to look at the 1948 Act to suit a more globalised Malaysian landscape.
"When the Act was first introduced, there was no Internet, there was so social media and no globalisation phenomenon. This is a moving process and there are many ways to strengthen ourselves - be it in retaining, abolishing, amending or in introducing a new Act. It is all a part of the process in a maturing democracy to strike a balance between the rights of the individual and that of the majority," the Umno vice-president told reporters on Wednesday.
"If it is a matter of keeping the Act or repealing it alone, then we would not be faced with the problems we do today where many feel discomforted when sensitive issues pertaining to religion and race can divide us."