Religious Harmony Act: Subtle, significant improvement in handling of religious insult

Speech or acts that insult religion remain a crime, but a higher bar of threatening public order is set

The Singapore Government wants to make subtle but significant improvements in how it handles religious insult. These tweaks are contained in the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act's (MRHA) proposed new Section 17F, dealing with incitement of religious hatred and ill will.

The provision takes up only three of the amendment Bill's 60-plus pages, but its importance should not be underestimated. It refines a legal line that has been breached regularly over the past decade and a half, mainly in online speech. Three key features of this section are worth noting.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2019, with the headline 'MRHA: Subtle, significant improvement in handling of religious insult'. Print Edition | Subscribe