Penang exco under probe for criticising Friday sermon

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed that police are investigating a Penang lawmaker for uttering allegedly insensitive remarks about a Friday sermon on rape. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed that police are investigating a Penang lawmaker for uttering allegedly insensitive remarks about a Friday sermon on rape. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 — The police are investigating a Penang lawmaker for uttering allegedly insensitive remarks about last week’s Friday sermon on rape, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed tonight.

The national police chief said on his Twitter account that the lawmaker, a Penang state executive councillor, will be investigated under Section 298 of the Penal Code for “uttering words, etc, with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person”.

“@PDRMsia telah berkali2 ingatkan supaya hati2 membuat komen yg sensitif, yg menyentuh Agama, tetapi tidak juga diendahkan,” he wrote, using the Twitter handle @KBAB51.

[Translation: The Royal Malaysian Police has issued repeated reminders to be careful when issuing sensitive remarks that touch on religion, but this has been ignored]

Khalid did not name the lawmaker under probe but earlier today, Penang DAP lawmaker Chong Eng, the exco in charge of women’s affairs, had weighed in on the sermon by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais), claiming that the authority had given allegedly misleading information about rape.

In its sermon last week, Jais had claimed the covering up of the “aurat” would prevent women from being harassed physically and mentally, in addition to reducing social ills such as rape, illicit sex and incest.

Last month, rights lawyer Eric Paulsen had similarly criticised Islamic sermons, saying on Twitter that those prepared by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) every Friday promotes “extremism”.

In his response then, IGP Khalid had said that the lawyer would be probed under the Sedition Act.

Paulsen was charged last week under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948, which stipulates that it is a criminal offence for anyone to publish or reproduce seditious publications.

He is the first person to be charged with sedition this year following the federal government’s apparent crackdown on opposition politicians and civil society last year under the colonial-era law.

The civil liberties activist pleaded not guilty at the Sessions Court when the charges were read out to him.