Published: 01 November 2022
1. The Sedition (Repeal) Act 2021, which was passed in Parliament in October 2021, will come into effect on 2 November 2022. This will repeal the Sedition Act 1948 and make related amendments to other Acts.
Repeal of the Sedition Act 1948
2. The Sedition Act 1948 was used in the past to address various forms of conduct that could weaken our social fabric and undermine our institutions.
3. The Sedition Act 1948 will be repealed because of its limited application today. There are now other laws that allow for a more targeted and calibrated approach to deal with similar concerns. Some types of conduct covered by the Sedition Act 1948 should also not be criminalised in today’s context, such as exciting disaffection against the Government.
Related Amendments to Other Acts
Amendments to Penal Code 1871
4. One aspect of the Sedition Act 1948, namely, ensuring social cohesion between different groups within Singapore, remains relevant. Therefore, section 267C of the Penal Code 1871 will be amended to ensure that our laws can continue to deal with serious cases of disharmony involving different groups in society. This includes groups of persons identified or organised beyond race and religion, such as on the basis of nationality or residential status.
5. Currently, section 267C prohibits the making, possession or dissemination of documents or electronic records containing any incitement of violence, counselling disobedience to the law, or which is likely to lead to a breach of the peace. With the present amendments, section 267C will also cover other forms of communication, such as speeches.
6. At the same time, the scope of the offence will be narrowed by requiring that the person must have intended for the violence, disobedience to the law, or breach of the peace to occur, or must have known or had reason to believe that these would likely occur.
7. The amendments also clarify that “counselling disobedience to the law” includes, but is not limited to, providing instruction, advice, or information that promotes disobedience to the law.
Amendments to Criminal Procedure Code 2010
8. The offences under the Sedition Act 1948 are arrestable. With its repeal, to ensure that the Police can continue to act swiftly and effectively when dealing with egregious cases that affect social cohesion, the Criminal Procedure Code 2010 will be amended to make three offences under the Penal Code 1871 arrestable:
(a) Section 298, which criminalises the deliberate wounding of any person’s racial feelings;
(b) Section 298A, which criminalises the promotion of disharmony between different racial groups and acts which are prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between racial groups and which disturb the public tranquility; and
(c) Section 505, which criminalises, among other things, the making, publication, or circulation of material with intent to incite any class of persons to commit an offence against another class of persons.
9. As the offences under section 267C of the Penal Code are already arrestable, no further amendment is required in this regard.
10. Please refer to Annex for more information on the Sedition (Repeal) Act 2021.