Penang police refute denial of probe against teen for ‘liking’ pro-Israel FB page

Abdul Rahim confirmed that the 17-year-old is being investigated under Section 4 (1) (c) of the Sedition Act for allegedly reproducing seditious publications. — Picture by K.E. Ooi
Abdul Rahim confirmed that the 17-year-old is being investigated under Section 4 (1) (c) of the Sedition Act for allegedly reproducing seditious publications. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

NIBONG TEBAL, Aug 15 — Penang Police Chief Datuk Wira Abdul Rahim Hanafi today corrected the denial issued by the South Seberang Perai district police chief that they were investigating a Form Five student for “liking” an "I love Israel" Facebook page.

Abdul Rahim instead confirmed at a press conference today that the 17-year-old is indeed being investigated under Section 4 (1) (c) of the Sedition Act for allegedly reproducing seditious publications.

"We are investigating the teenager, not the ‘case’ and we have taken his statement including the teachers and other students from the same school," he said.

The Penang police chief was speaking at the South Seberang Perai Police district headquarters after witnessing a handing duty ceremony of the district police chief ACP Shafien Mamat to Deputy Superintendent Shaifuddin Abdullah to take over as the acting district police chief.

Shafien reportedly said yesterday there was a "misunderstanding" and that police were investigating the case, not the boy, under Section 4 (1) of Sedition Act.

Today, Abdul Rahim added that a total five people have had their statements recorded.

The whole issue blew up after a teacher from the teenager's school allegedly circulated a screen captured image of the controversial post, which prompted attacks from other Facebook users to cut off ties with the student and to “boycott” him.

Another teacher purportedly from the same school, went a step further, leaving on the first teacher’s Facebook page that is accessible only to friends a message that read: “Kita bakor je hahaha [We just burn hahaha]”.

The boy had lodged a police report and a police report was also lodged against him.

But it was the police’s decision to investigate the youth under the Sedition Act for allegedly “liking” the pro-Israel Facebook page that triggered public uproar.

Among others, MCA Religious Harmony Bureau chief Datuk Ti Lian Ker asked if this meant that singing Christmas carols with “Israel” in its lyrics would also be considered seditious.

Yesterday, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek also pleaded ignorance when asked if the expression of support for Israel was now criminalised.

Lawyers told Malay Mail Online that there was nothing criminal or seditious in the boy’s alleged act of clicking the “Like” button on the Facebook page.

Today, Abdul Rahim clarified that the police had opened two investigation papers for the case, one against the student under the Sedition Act and another, for criminal intimidation.

"Those who made threats against the student are being investigated under Section 506 of

the Penal Code for criminal intimidation, " Abdul Rahim said.

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