Seditious in Singapore! Free Speech, Integration and the Offence of Promoting Ill-Will and Hostility Between Different Racial Groups
Jaclyn L Neo
National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law; National University of Singapore (NUS) - Centre for International Law
May 24, 2011
Singapore Journal of Legal Studies (December 2011)
In 2005, the archaic laws of sedition were summoned to counteract speech considered offensive to racial and religious groups in Singapore. Under the Sedition Act, it is seditious to, inter alia, promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population. In a later case involving religious proselytisation, a Christian couple was charged and convicted of sedition under the same section. This article examines this new phenomenon. It investigates the manner in which these laws have been employed and jurisprudentially developed to restrain speech on race and/or religion in Singapore. The article argues that the current state of the law is highly problematic for its adverse impact on free speech as well as for its conceptual confusions with alternative bases for restraining speech. It contends that failure to extricate the existing conceptual confusions is adverse to free speech and community integration in the long run. A three-fold legal framework is proposed to provide clearer guidance on inter-racial, inter-religious interaction within the Singaporean society.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 22
Keywords: Freedom of Speech, Singapore, Religious FreedomAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: May 27, 2011 ; Last revised: July 31, 2012
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