KUALA LUMPUR, March 29 ― Police have opened a sedition investigation on a motion at the recent Malaysian Bar’s annual general meeting (AGM) that called on Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali to quit as Attorney-General amid high-profile controversies.
Lawyer Shanmugam Ramasamy, who was one of the three who had proposed the motion that was later approved at the AGM, said he received a notice from Bukit Aman that requested his presence at the police headquarters Thursday to record his statement.
“The Criminal Investigation Unit Class D5, Criminal Investigation Department, Bukit Aman police headquarters, is investigating one complaint relating to Sri Muda Rpt: 6739/16 under Section 4(1)(a) of the Sedition Act,” said the letter from ASP Wan Aeidil Wan Abdullah dated March 28 that was sighted by Malay Mail Online.
Section 4(1)(a) of the Sedition Act states that an offence is committed by a person who “does or attempts to do, or makes any preparation to do, or conspires with any person to do, any act which has or which would, if done, have a seditious tendency”.
The letter stated that the investigation was on point 7.2 of the Bar Council’s circular number 061/2016 dated March 14, relating to the motion urging Apandi to resign as AG.
“I’m disappointed the police have gone down this road. Questioning lawyers who participate in the closed-door Malaysian Bar AGM for sedition is completely unprecedented and amounts to intimidation and harassment,” Shanmugam told Malay Mail Online.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed briefly with Malay Mail Online that a sedition investigation has been opened on the Malaysian Bar motion.
The motion proposed by lawyers Shanmugam, Charles Hector and Francis Pereira had called for Apandi to step down over his handling of the cases involving state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), former 1MDB unit SRC International, and the transfer of RM2.6 billion into the prime minister’s personal accounts, and for the Solicitor General to take over as public prosecutor in those cases.
Apandi told a press conference on January 26 that he found that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak did not commit any criminal offence in the cases of SRC International and the RM2.6 billion transfer, which he said was a donation from the Saudi royalty.
The motion was approved at the Malaysian Bar AGM on March 19, with over 700 members of the peninsula legal body voting in favour.
Charles and Francis confirmed with Malay Mail Online that they have received the same police notice calling them in for questioning on Thursday.
Charles said there was no justification for the police to question the movers of the motion, pointing out that it is now a Malaysian Bar resolution after it was adopted with an “overwhelming” majority at the AGM.
“They are forgetting that it’s one of the objects of the Bar to uphold the cause of justice without regard,” he told Malay Mail Online.
Francis stressed that the Malaysian Bar has always regarded the Sedition Act as an “oppressive” law that should be abolished.
“This investigation is an interference into the duty and purpose of the Bar to uphold the cause of justice without fear or favour,” he said.