Sedition charge expected for PKR Johor leader, says lawyer

A screengrab of Johor PKR deputy chief Hassan Karim’s tweet earlier this morning on summoned to the Shah Alam district police headquarters earlier today for questioning.
A screengrab of Johor PKR deputy chief Hassan Karim’s tweet earlier this morning on summoned to the Shah Alam district police headquarters earlier today for questioning.

KUALA LUMPUR, August 29 — Johor PKR deputy chief Hassan Karim will likely face sedition charges for allegedly criticising the Selangor Sultan amid the Mentri Besar post crisis, according to his lawyer.

Hassan’s lawyer said the PKR leader is being investigated under Section 4 (1) of the Sedition Act although the police have yet to issue any notice on when will his client be charged.

Hassan appeared at the Shah Alam district police headquarters earlier today for questioning but said he had exercised his right not to have his statement recorded.

“I was asked to come for questioning and among the things they asked were, did I criticise the Sultan on Twitter.

“I refused to answer. I maintained that I am not guilty and exercised my right not to state anything,” he told Malay Mail Online.

Hassan was said to have infuriated pro-government Malay NGOs who lodged police reports against PKR for posting statements deemed insulting to the Sultan.

The Twitter post on August 15 at the heart of the complaint read:

“@hasankarim51: The government of (Tan Sri) Abdul Khalid Ibrahim in Selangor is now illegal; Excos are illegal; decision of the its meetings illegal; their wages are illegal. The palace is supporting something illegal. What kind of Sultan is this? When Selangor is in a serious crisis he is abroad”.

Pakatan Rakyat has claimed selective prosecution in Putrajaya’s ongoing sedition dragnet against its lawmakers, pointing to the lack of action against leaders from Malay right wing groups aligned with the government who were accused of committing heavier offences.

Four PR federal and state lawmakers have been charged with sedition to date, among others for allegedly insulting Malaysia’s biggest party, Umno and purportedly provoking its members.

PKR’s newly elected vice president Rafizi Ramli was initially investigated for sedition but was later charged under Section 504 of the Penal Code for “defaming” and “provoking” Umno.

Putrajaya has continued to use the Sedition Act, some two years after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak promised to repeal the colonial era law, resulting in four opposition lawmakers hauled up over a variety of allegations in the past three days.

The alleged offences are varied, ranging from words said within the privileged walls of a state legislative assembly to remarks made in the capacity of lawyer representing a client.

Rather than moving forward with the plan to abolish the Act, the government has been ramping up efforts to investigate and prosecute offences under the law, which could suggest that Putrajaya is caving in to pressure from conservative groups who insist the colonial-era law is necessary to protect the interests of Islam, Bumiputeras and the royalty.

Among such critics are former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who recently argued that removing the Sedition Act could lead to chaos in the country.