November 29, 2014 – Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak defended his decision to abandon his earlier pledges and retain the almost seven-decade-old Sedition Act at the UMNO General Assembly.
As UMNO President, Najib said he has a duty to listen to party members and that the majority wants the act to stay, because it is seen as the last line of defence to protect the special status of the Malays, the traditional rulers and Islam.
But more importantly, the Prime Minister said the act is needed to maintain peace and racial harmony in the multi-racial and multi-religious country.
Speaking at a news conference, Najib denied that he is pandering to demands of extremists in his party and that the Sedition Act is against his principle of moderation, or Wasatiyah, that he has been advocating within and outside the country. “I have always maintained that this law is good for both Malays and non-Malays,” said Najib. “We do not want any religious or ethnic conflict happening in this country.”
Najib, during his closing speech, also tasked the police to investigate and take tough actions against those questioning or challenging the status of Islam, the rights of Malays and rulers. He added that additional clauses to protect Islam will be tabled in the next parliamentary session in March.
Najib also reminded the party’s rank-and-file not to discount the support of the Chinese that form less than a quarter of the population. He said the political reality is UMNO needs Chinese voters in order to stay in power.
With the next general election not due till 2018, UMNO has the next 39 months to figure out how to regain support and trust of the people. Najib said the work begins now, promising greater opportunities for the youths to join the party as UMNO undergoing rejuvenation process.