Don’t Make Malaysia A Joke

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Police are investigating DAP leader Tony Pua under the Sedition Act 1948 over his Facebook posts criticising the Pardon Board’s decision to reduce Najib Abdul Razak’s prison sentence.

Inspector-General of Police Razarudin Husain said Pua’s remarks were seditious for criticising the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s power to give pardon and inciting others to hate the royal institution.

In a statement, the top cop said police have summoned the former Damansara MP to give his statement to investigators at the Bukit Aman police headquarters at 1pm tomorrow.

“Police confirm receiving reports regarding statements made by Tony Pua on Facebook that insulted the royal institution.

“Such statements were by nature seditious, inciting the public to hate and insult the royal institution over the sole discretionary power of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as per Article 42 of the Federal Constitution.

“Investigations are being carried out by the Classified Crimes Unit under the Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department, under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998,” Razarudin said.

It appears the top cop has all but convicted a joke-cracking politician in advance of even getting round to charging him – this for an alleged very serious crime associated with conspiring and plotting to overturn a government, which is not what a joke is generally about.

(In days gone by, Kings would go so far as to hire Official Jokers to make light of issues such as this).

Such threats against free speech and comment are no laughing matter on the other hand; they put the reputation of Malaysia in danger, once again, of being treated as a joke.

Mr Pua merely issued a sly comment about the leniency of the revised sentence for Malaysia’s world famous kleptocrat, Najib Razak. In doing so he reflected the view of the vast majority of Malaysians who are well aware that anyone not well connected like Najib would be languishing in jail for decades for the crimes he has committed.

The proof of that popular opinion was reflected in the two recent general elections where Najib’s party UMNO has sunk towards oblivion in the popular vote. Tony Pua has therefore reflected a public disgust – he has not suggested the toppling of the government or head of state.

Meanwhile, those same UMNO supporters of Najib expressed their own profound disappointment at the decision of the Pardons Board, as headed by the former King, in that it did not let their wealth-laden former leader off entirely.

Najib has come out with the same complaints, articulated by his petulant daughter.  Yet only UMNO have gone running off to file police reports arguing that whilst their own moans and groans are somehow not critical of the king’s decision, those who are unhappy for the opposite reason are being ‘seditious’.

The pardons board devised a compromise that left few people happy, few compromises do. However, under the laws of Malaysia, happy or not, the decision will prevail – no one has suggested otherwise.

In a free country anyone should feel free to moan, criticise or crack a joke about a public matter such as this. It goes without saying that to urge rebellion is completely different, but no one has on either side.

The job of the police in such a situation is to handle childish behaviour in the manner it deserves, not to indulge in it as well.

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