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Seditious in Singapore! Free Speech, Integration and the Offence of Promoting Ill-Will and Hostility Between Different Racial Groups

Singapore Journal of Legal Studies (December 2011)

22 Pages Posted: 27 May 2011 Last revised: 31 Jul 2012

Jaclyn L. Neo

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law; National University of Singapore (NUS) - Centre for Asian Legal Studies (CALS); National University of Singapore (NUS) - Centre for International Law

Date Written: May 24, 2011

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Freedom of Speech, Singapore, Religious Freedom

Suggested Citation

Neo, Jaclyn L., Seditious in Singapore! Free Speech, Integration and the Offence of Promoting Ill-Will and Hostility Between Different Racial Groups (May 24, 2011). Singapore Journal of Legal Studies (December 2011) . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1851948

Jaclyn L.C. Neo (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law ( email )

469G Bukit Timah Road
Eu Tong Sen Building
Singapore, 259776
Singapore

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Centre for Asian Legal Studies (CALS) ( email )

469G Bukit Timah Road
Singapore

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Centre for International Law ( email )

Block B, #02-01
469 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore, 259776
Singapore

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