DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has questioned the arrest of several individuals for allegedly insulting Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor.
The former finance minister and Penang chief minister said he too was subject of insults by netizens while in office, but no such action was taken against those concerned.
“The insults and criticisms hurled against me were far worse than this. But this is the situation we have to face as public officials.
“If the insults are baseless, then sue them in court, why arrest them? Unless, of course, there are death threats or to cause hurt,” he said when met outside the northeast district police headquarters in Penang today.
The Bagan member of parliament likened the arrest of several individuals by the authorities for allegedly insulting Muhammad Sanusi as an abuse of power by the government.
He added that the government was using the police as a political weapon.
It was reported that at least three individuals from two states had been arrested for allegedly insulting Muhammad Sanusi.
Police action came after a special officer to Muhammad Sanusi lodged multiple reports against those who had taken to social media to call out the Pas politician over his recent remarks about having enough freezer containers for Covid-19 victims.
The case is being investigated under Section 504 of the Penal Code, Section 15 of the Minor Offences Act and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act.
The arrests drew criticism from various quarters over allegations of double standards.
Muhammad Sanusi later apologised for the controversial “joke”.
“The apology shows that he had made a mistake in uttering the joke, and as such, there is nothing wrong for others to criticise him for his tasteless joke,” Lim added.
Lim Kit Siang said police need to consider how taking action against government critics affects their image.
“It is time that Inspector-General of Police Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani intervene and be mindful of the image the police want to project – that the police is a friend and protector of the citizen and not officialdom and that Malaysia is not a police state.
“(Police must also) ensure that the police image is not undermined by over-zealous police personnel who misconstrue their role and duties,” he said.
Meanwhile, PKR Youth has urged Sanusi and the police to immediately stop their actions against those who criticise politicians in the country.
In a statement released after a fourth individual was arrested for his comment towards Sanusi on social media, PKR Youth said such arrests are a form of oppression on people’s freedom of speech and go against the rule of law.
“We believe that using those laws to investigate the individuals is a form of oppression towards freedom of expression and damage the concept of people’s check and balance towards the government.
“Police investigation on them is a cruel act and go against our country’s rule of law as the freedom of speech is enshrined under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution,” Kedah PKR Youth chief Mohammed Firdaus Johari and party’s national legal bureau secretary Darwin Lim Chee Chien said.
Firdaus and Lim worried the police actions will create a culture of fear in the country and people will no longer dare to exercise their rights which are guaranteed in the constitution.
“As such, we urge the police to immediately halt the use of those laws towards the individuals.
“The Kedah menteri besar should take full responsibility for this incident and apologise to the people for his failure to set a good example as a government leader,” they added.