KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 ― Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi confirmed today the group of people who protested last month against a church in Taman Medan are only being investigated for intrusion, despite his initial claim that the Sedition Act would be used against them.
The home minister said in a written reply to Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo that the police are investigating the 40 protesters under Section 448/5111 of the Penal Code for trespass.
“The statement made by the Inspector-General of Police was based on the police report made and the early classification of the offence was trespassing and not classified under an offence under the Sedition Act,” the reply said, referring to IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar’s claim after the incident that the protest was not a crime of sedition.
“It is the police's responsibility to classify every complaint received for investigations purposes.
“The police are in the process of completing investigations and are still collecting evidence before an investigation paper is submitted to the Attorney-General's Chambers for further action, on whether they agree with the police's suggestions or otherwise,” Zahid added in his reply.
Gobind had asked the minister three questions: If any action would be taken against the IGP for saying that there was no seditious element in the protest; if the investigations are completed; and if the AGC's views were taken into account during the announcement.
On April 20, when responding to the April 19 protest, Ahmad Zahid had said that if anyone “touches on any religion”, they will be subject to the Sedition Act.
And when asked if Umno members will be disciplined if found to be involved in the protest, he said, “Of course, as they are breaching the law and in Umno, we have to pay the consequences”.
His remarks at the time contradicted the IGP’s claim just hours before that the police had cleared the group of any wrongdoing.
During the protest, about 40 of the neighbourhood’s Malay-Muslim residents demanded that the Community of Praise Petaling Jaya church remove the cross it had affixed on its facade, claiming that it was a challenge to Islam and could influence young Muslims.
The church removed the cross several hours later.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said earlier this month that the police are investigating the incident and will take action under the Sedition Act and other laws if the protesters are found to have acted unlawfully.
IGP’s brother Datuk Abdullah Abu Bakar had acted as the mediator between the protesters and the church representatives during the incident.
Police have since confirmed that that it will soon wrap up its probe on the case, which was investigated for illegal assembly under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 and trespass under the Penal Code.
Selangor police said, however, that sedition has not been ruled out.