In the past week, the Royal Malaysia Police have opened investigations into at least four individuals in relation to social media posts about the Agong (King) and Malay royals. The individuals are being investigated for potential violations of the Sedition Act 1948 and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.
On 21 October, police initiated an investigation into a Facebook post by Sungai Pelek Assemblyperson Ronnie Liu which included pictures of protests in Bangkok and a caption stating, ‘Now in Bangkok, they say no to the king’. Liu was arrested today. Another Twitter user was arrested on 27 October for questioning the content, source, and institutional backing of a tweet by the National Security Council concerning the “Seven Wills of the Malay Rulers”, a document attributed to the Malay royalty.
ARTICLE 19 has repeatedly called on the Malaysia government to repeal the Sedition Act and reform the Communications and Multimedia Act, both of which have been repeatedly used to prosecute critics and restrict freedom of expression in Malaysia.
ARTICLE 19 said:
“Throughout the years, successive governments have used the Sedition Act and Communications and Multimedia Act to shield public officials from criticism. These laws are overly broad and vaguely worded, making them vulnerable to arbitrary and persecutory application by government officials.
The use of the Sedition Act and Communication and Multimedia Act by the Perikatan Nasional government against an opposition party member is the latest example of a pattern of attacks against freedom of expression.
The government should end criminal proceedings against individuals merely exercising their right to freedom of expression and take steps to bring Malaysia’s legal framework into line with international human rights standards.”