Penang Deputy Chief Minister P Ramasamy has demanded to know why a senior citizen was swiftly arrested following a viral video in which he criticised Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor for joking about where to place Covid-19 bodies.
He said the move raised questions on police conduct after they arrested and released on bail a senior citizen for calling Sanusi names.
“In a short video that was circulated, the 61-year-old man from Lenggeng, Negeri Sembilan was arrested for his remarks calling Sanusi ‘stupid’.
“This arose from the fact that a few days earlier, Sanusi, when asked by a reporter whether there were enough places for those who died from Covid-19, remarked that containers could be used as a morgue,” Ramasamy said in a statement today.
“I don’t think that the police have done their work so efficiently on other pressing matters,” added Ramasamy, who has often crossed swords with Sanusi in the past.
He said that even though Sanusi apologised for the “inappropriate” joke, there were many who used social media to berate the MB for making such an inappropriate statement, especially when many Malaysians have lost loved ones to the virus.
“While there were hundreds if not thousands who railed against Sanusi for his offensive and insensitive remark, why did his special officer focus on this particular senior citizen?
“Why was the remark regarded as super sensitive by the police when Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has been repeatedly called all kinds of names?” Ramasamy asked.
Yesterday, Kuala Muda district police chief Adzli Abu Shah said police tracked down the man and raided his home.
“The man was remanded and released on police bail after his statement was recorded,” he added.
Adzli said the video incident is being investigated under Section 504 of the Penal Code, Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955 and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.
Section 504 is related to intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace which carries a punishment of up to two years imprisonment or a fine or both.
Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955 concerns insulting behaviour which carries a fine of up to RM100.
Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1988 concerns the misuse of network facilities which is punishable with a fine of up to RM50,000 or up to a year imprisonment or both.
Ramasamy called on the police to explain why the video against Sanusi received such attention whereas many other serious cases were not accorded the same weight despite police reports.
He said it was unclear if police were serving the politicians in power or public interest in arresting the man.
Ramasamy said Sanusi’s “sick” and “inappropriate” joke was unacceptable.
He said the police should be honest and transparent about the case if there were other reasons for their swift action.
“Maybe the police should come out with the real reason why this person was arrested? Since this senior citizen has a previous conviction, I am not sure whether this was an added factor in his arrest or whether his previous conviction really mattered to the police.”
Ramasamy added that since Sanusi became MB, he had come under fire for demolishing two temples, cancelling the Thaipusam holiday, demanding that Penang payment for raw water, and going for a test drive during lockdown.
He said generally, the people of Kedah expect this to be Sanusi’s first and last term as the Kedah MB.
“Apparently, it is believed that in the next general election he might become a liability to PAS.”
Meanwhile, two more people have been arrested for making insulting remarks against Sanusi.
Kota Setar police chief Ahmad Shukri Mat Akhir said police have arrested a 45-year-old in Mergong Perdana and a 52-year-old in Kepala Batas.
He said this was after a police report was lodged over the offensive comments made by the two persons on Facebook yesterday morning.
Police have yet to reveal what the offending content is.
Shukri said the two persons are being investigated for an intentional insult to provoke a breach of the peace, abuse of network services and insulting behaviour.
The case is being probed under Section 504 of the Penal Code, Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955.
Several news reports suggested the Kedah MB had lodged a complaint against his detractors through his officers.
The arrests drew strong criticism from the public and allegations of double standard.
The PAS leader is no stranger to controversies.
Last month, Sanusi was fined for going on a test drive during the Covid-19 lockdown.
In March, he threatened to turn Penang’s water supply “muddy” if the state did contribute to water treatment in Kedah.
In December last year, Sanusi came under fire for using racial stereotypes to hit back at Indian leaders for criticising his handling of the demolition of Hindu temples.
The MB had accused his critics of being “drunk on the toddy of populism”.