Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said today she is concerned over the detainment of radio personality and actor Patrick Teoh over comments he allegedly made against Johor’s Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim.
She argued that Teoh had cooperated with the police, and therefore there was no need to remand him for three days.
“What is happening to @patrickteoh is deeply troubling. What is the need for remand when he cooperated with the police?” she posted on her Twitter account, tagging Teoh’s account.
“Patrick is 73 years and does not deserve to be held in custody. More so at this time when it could pose a danger to his health,” she added, referring to the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Ambiga’s sentiments were echoed by MP for Petaling Jaya Datuk Maria Chin Abdullah.
“Totally agree. Please release him,” Maria posted, quoting Ambiga’s tweet.
Johor police chief Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said earlier today Teoh has been remanded for three days starting today until May 12 to facilitate investigations.
He said the state police received a report from the public alleging that the 73-year-old suspect had allegedly insulted Tunku Ismail, popularly known as TMJ, and the Johor royal institution in a Facebook post under the name “Patrick Teoh”.
Ayob Khan said police have initiated investigations under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for sharing offensive and improper content, which carries a maximum fine of RM50,000 or a jail term not exceeding one year or both,
He reminded the public not to misuse application services to spread “fake news” that will cause discontent, threaten and also touch on sensitivities.
Meanwhile, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) says Teoh’s arrest is an abuse of law.
Suaram’s executive director Sevan Doraisamy said Section 223 of the CMA stated that it is not a criminal offence for anyone to post offensive remarks online, so long as it does not threaten the safety of another person.
It added that the arrest and remand of any individual under Section 233 of CMA for allegedly insulting the royal institution can be done remotely without the need for prolonged remand.
“It is an abuse of the law as any investigation for such offence (insulting the monarchy) can be done without the need for prolonged remand,” he said in a statement today.
Suaram said that the Johor police contingent was notorious for abusing Section 233 of CMA in recent years, with mass arrests made for comments on football, and a trend of requesting extensive remand period for a “crime” that does not require the detention of the alleged perpetrator.
“Despite the change in leadership, Johor police contingent seems to be keen to continue the absurd trend where limited police resources are wasted on arresting and detaining individuals for online commentaries that do not threaten the safety and well-being of others.
“In Zaid Ibrahim’s case under Section 233 of CMA where he allegedly insulted Najib Razak, the session court ruled that the prosecution must call on the victim and have the victim testify that they were affected by the accused’s statement.
“In this context, perhaps the Johor police contingent should verify the supposed victim of this case was genuinely affected by an off-hand remark by a random individual online before expending limited police resources to arrest and detain a person for alleged offensive comments online during a pandemic,” Sevan said.
Sevan then urged the police to immediately release Teoh and all other individuals detained for such offences.
“The government must also review and restrict the flawed application of Section 233 of CMA by the Royal Malaysian Police,” he said.
Earlier report: May 10, Patrick Teoh Remanded for Three Days over Alleged Insults of TMJ