A lot of us (me included, though I’ve suspected for awhile) found out this morning that if you make a racist comment on a forum or a blog and you can be charged under the Sedition Act.
In fact, there are a variety of things you could do on your blog that might be construed as an act with a seditious tendency (s.3.1), even this blog post, if I’m not careful, and in my stream of consciousness, end up writing things that “raise discontent or disaffection amongst the citizens of Singapore or the residents in Singapore” (s.3.1(d))
So, the fellas charged this morning allegedly made racist remarks on an open forum and on a website/blog, and would have been charged under ss. 4.1(c), 4.2, 3.1(e). (Anyone with detailed information, please leave comments or trackback).
I’ll say now that I’m all against racism and racist remarks online and off, and that regardless of the law, I think it is repulsive and wrongful behaviour.
And as regards the law, outlawing racism is obviously not unique to Singapore. There are the Australian anti-racial vilification laws (e.g. Racial Vilification Act 1996 (South Australia), where you will find that the punishments are quite severe, even when compared with our very own Sedition Act.
Even as I write this post as quickly as I can, newswires around the world have already or are about to pick up on the screaming headline ‘Bloggers Charged With Sedition in Singapore’, (with Steven McDermott probably sharpening his scissors and thickening his glue for a bit of cut and paste action as I write), which as you can see, isn’t really the issue.
For mine, the issue is a public relations related one. We have laws to protect against racism, and while these laws ain’t broke, they sure could do with a little polishing. Enact an anti-racial vilification law, fellas. Leave the Sedition Act for specific seditious acts against the State.