By blasting Kadir, Anwar sends wrong signals on press freedom

Opinion  |  Bob Teoh
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | By blasting A Kadir Jasin’s recent blog as disparaging to the monarchy, prime minister-in-waiting, Anwar Ibrahim, is sending the wrong signals about press freedom that has been promised by the new Pakatan Harapan coalition.

Worse still, Anwar’s outburst has encouraged vigilante elements, like Perkasa, an extreme Malay-Muslim group tolerated for so long by the ousted Umno/BN regime, to come out of the woodwork.

Although not mentioning Kadir by name, Perkasa has threatened to “act aggressively” against anyone deemed to have insulted the monarchy.

Instead of chiding Kadir, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has decided to wade into the controversy by saying he’s not against royals but wants to save them from rakyat’s anger, presumably alluding to the palace's undue delay in swearing Mahathir in as the seventh PM and Tommy Thomas as the new attorney-general.

On the other hand, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is also Anwar’s wife, has cautioned, “We need to be careful of what we say, watch our manners and respect the constitutional monarchy." This sounds like a call to self-censorship. This is abhorrent even under the rarest of circumstances.

Police are investigating Kadir after reports were lodged against him for his blog post, according to inspector-general of police Mohamad Fuzi Harun. He said Kadir would be investigated under the Sedition Act, the Communications and Multimedia Act and Section 500 of the Penal Code for criminal intimidation.

This smacks of selective prosecution under the Najib regime that the new attorney-general has promised to do away with...

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