The Sedition Act
is in Chapter 290 of the Statutes of Singapore
. It was last revised in 1985.
In September 2005, the Sedition Act was first used on individuals when three men, including a teenager, were charged for making seditious and inflammatory racist comments on the Internet.
- 3. —(1) A seditious tendency is a tendency —
- (a) to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the Government;
- (b) to excite the citizens of Singapore or the residents in Singapore to attempt to procure in Singapore, the alteration, otherwise than by lawful means, of any matter as by law established;
- (c) to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the administration of justice in Singapore;
- (d) to raise discontent or disaffection amongst the citizens of Singapore or the residents in Singapore;
- (e) to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Singapore.
- (2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), any act, speech, words, publication or other thing shall not be deemed to be seditious by reason only that it has a tendency —
- (a) to show that the Government has been misled or mistaken in any of its measures;
- (b) to point out errors or defects in the Government or the Constitution as by law established or in legislation or in the administration of justice with a view to the remedying of such errors or defects;
- (c) to persuade the citizens of Singapore or the residents in Singapore to attempt to procure by lawful means the alteration of any matter in Singapore; or
- (d) to point out, with a view to their removal, any matters producing or having a tendency to produce feelings of ill-will and enmity between different races or classes of the population of Singapore,
- if such act, speech, words, publication or other thing has not otherwise in fact a seditious tendency.
- (3) For the purpose of proving the commission of any offense under this Act, the intention of the person charged at the time he did or attempted to do or made any preparation to do or conspired with any person to do any act or uttered any seditious words or printed, published, sold, offered for sale, distributed, reproduced or imported any publication or did any other thing shall be deemed to be irrelevant if in fact such act had, or would, if done, have had, or such words, publication or thing had a seditious tendency.
Provision against racist comments
Subsection 3 of the Act describes the types of publication that have seditious tendency and these includes publication that "promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes". Singapore takes social cohesion and racial harmony in the country seriously because of its history of racial riots in the 1960s. More recent events of racial violence in neighboring Indonesia in the late 1990s and early 2000s also serve as reminders of potential inter-racial conflicts in the region.
Uses of the act
In September 2005, the Sedition Act was first used on individuals when two men were charged for making seditious and inflammatory racist comments on the Internet. They made their remarks on Internet forums in response to a letter printed in The Straits Times.
On July 14, The Straits Times published a letter from a Muslim woman asking if cab companies allowed uncaged pets to be transported in taxis, after she saw a dog standing on a taxi seat next to its owner. She said that "dogs may drool on the seats or dirty them with their paws". Her concerns had a religious basis as according to Ustaz Ali Haji Mohamed, chairman of Khadijah mosque, who pointed out that: "There are various Islamic schools of thought which differ in views. But most Muslims in Singapore are from the Syafie school of thought. This means they are not allowed to touch dogs which are wet, which would include a dog's saliva. This is a religious requirement.".
On September 16, a third person, a 17 year old youth, was also charged with the Sedition Act for making racist remarks on his blog site. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 24 months supervised probation that includes counseling sessions and community service in the Malay community.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong later commented that such remarks will not be tolerated, even if posted on the Internet. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Wong Kan Seng said that the Sedition Act was under review to see if it should be strengthened or renewed.
In June 2006, it was reported that a 21-year-old blogger going by the moniker of "Char" was under police investigation for posting cartoons of Jesus Christ
on the Internet. He was later let off with a stern warning from the police.
On April 15 2008 the Straits Times reported that a middle-aged Christian couple were charged on the same day under both the Sedition and Undesirable Publications Act with distributing seditious publications to 2 Muslim women in 2007; namely, Jack Chick's "The Little Bride" tract. The case was scheduled to be heard again on April 29.