KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — The government would avoid using the Sedition Act 1948 except for situations when it involves the Rulers’ position, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today.
In a video clip aired on news portal Malaysia Gazette, Anwar was heard being asked about the disputed use of the colonial-era law that was used to charge caretaker Kedah menteri besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor in court this morning.
Anwar replied that the Sedition Act would not be used when it is about criticism against the prime minister.
“Yes. From a policy perspective, we avoid using the Sedition Act, except when this touches on the position of the Rulers.
“I never used that as an excuse when it was about criticising the prime minister, but this is about the position and dignity of the Rulers which we should protect and uphold and avoid from becoming an unhealthy political debate,” he told reporters.
Anwar was also asked about Sanusi’s predawn arrest at 3am today.
“On that, have to ask what is its process. The information that I received is that the police monitored, searched, found, and arrested,” he replied.
As for allegations that there was an attempt to weaken PAS and Perikatan Nasional, Anwar highlighted that the police report against Sanusi was lodged by the Selangor Council of the Royal Court and that the Selangor Sultan had yesterday said the matter is not resolved.
He added that the matter followed the “process”.
Anwar reiterated that Sanusi's case should be allowed to follow the legal “process” after a police report has been made against the latter.
He said to let the police investigate, and the attorney-general decides on prosecution, and that he does not want to interfere with this process.
He called on the public to respect the court system.
According to news portal Astro Awani, Anwar made those remarks after launching the Selangor-level “Sentuhan Agro Madani” event in Sekinchan.
Sanusi was reportedly arrested at 3am today before being brought to the court to face charges.
Sanusi who is also Perikatan Nasional’s elections director was reported to have been arrested in a hotel here at 3am and later taken to the Sessions Court in Selayang where he was charged and claimed trial to two counts of sedition.
The two charges were in relation to Sanusi’s recent remarks to the Selangor Sultan as well as to Anwar's assertion of a call for unity government by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Human rights advocacy group Lawyers for Liberty and the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance have criticised the government for using the Sedition Act on Sanusi while Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin from PKR has questioned the PAS leader’s arrest at 3am.