Neo on Free Speech & the Offense of Promoting Hostility Between Different Groups

Jaclyn Ling-chien Neo  (Nat’l U. of Singapore, Faculty of Law) has posted Seditious in Singapore! Free Speech and The Offence of Promoting Ill-Will and Hostility between Different Racial Groups. The abstract follows.

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, inter alia, to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population. In a later case involving religious proselytization, 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 threefold legal framework is proposed to provide clearer guidance on inter-racial and inter-religious interaction within the Singaporean society.

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