Trio Arrested for Insulting Agong on Social Media

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Eric Liew and two others arrested for sedition over posts on former king.

The police have arrested two men and a woman for having uploaded onto social media comments deemed insulting against Sultan Muhammad V over his resignation as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said today.

He said the men were aged 46 and 27 and the woman, 26.“They were arrested after we received several police reports on the action of the social media account holders who had posted the insulting comments against Sultan Muhammad V.

Razak Ghazali

“They are being investigated under the Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948,” he said in a statement.

Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act, among others, outlaws any action that has a seditious tendency as well as the utterance of any seditious word.

Upon conviction, it is punishable with a fine up to RM5,000 or up to three years’ imprisonment or both for the first offence. Subsequent offences are punished more severely.

Things that are deemed to have a seditious tendency by law include those that “raise discontent or disaffection amongst the subjects of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong or of the ruler of any state”.

Civil rights activists have previously criticised the Sedition Act as being too vague and prone to abuse. Pakatan Harapan had promised to repeal it in its election manifesto, and a moratorium on its enforcement was also put in place pending the repeal.

However, the moratorium was lifted following the Seafield temple riots in November last year in a bid to curb speech deemed to be racially or religiously inflammatory.

In an immediate response to the arrests, lawyer Syahredzan Johan said the use of the Sedition Act is unnecessary and called for the moratorium to be reinstated.

“The expressions by the three people may be objectionable and possibly unacceptable, but the use of the Sedition Act is unnecessary, and against the policy of the government.

“There should a moratorium on the Sedition Act. Disappointing,” he tweeted.

Commenting further, the IGP advised the public to refrain from posting remarks that were provocative.

“Avoid from manipulating the issue of the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s resignation to a point that it can create a negative perception against the royal institution in this country,” he said.

The trio detained yesterday were Eric Liew Chee Ling, 46, using the Facebook account name Eric Liew; 27-year-old Azham Akhtar Abdullah using the @azhamakhtar Twitter handle; and Nur Alia Astaman, 26, who made postings through her @aliaastaman Twitter handle.

The three arrests add to a growing list of individuals who have been investigated by the police over postings of a similar nature or who have been penalised by their employers.

Datuk Mohd Tamrin Abdul Ghafar, the son of late former deputy prime minister Tun Abdul Ghafar Baba, was quizzed for over three hours by police in Johor over two of his blog posts.

Yusof Mat Isa

Yesterday, Tenaga Nasional Berhad suspended an employee over public comments deemed insulting to the country’s royals.

Private consulting firm Pemandu Associates also suspended an employee with immediate effect over a tweet allegedly posted following Sultan Muhammad’s abdication on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Mediviron Group of Clinics confirmed that a doctor with its Kajang branch, Dr Rupesh Muniandy, had resigned over his remarks against Sultan Muhammad.

Mediviron said Rupesh had made the comments in his personal capacity, and that they did not reflect the views of the group.

Related reports:

Jan 9, TNB, Company Suspend Staff for Insulting Royal Institution

Jan 8, Staff Who Insulted Agong No Longer with Cisco, but UMNO Protest Still On