Kuala Lumpur (dpa) – A leader of a left-wing Malaysian party was arrested under a controversial sedition law for criticising a ruling against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, police and party officials said Friday.
S Arutchelvan, secretary general of the leftist Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), was arrested late Thursday by Malaysian police, the latest arrest targeting people critical of a Federal Court decision upholding Anwar’s sodomy conviction.
Fifteen policemen were involved in the operation to detain Arutchelvan at his home in downtown Kuala Lumpur, according to a party statement.
“The PSM deplores the heavy-handed action of the … police,” it said in a statement posted on its website. “Surely the time of the 15 police officers could have been better utilised to combat crime.”
Kuala Lumpur police chief Zainuddin Ahmad said Arutchelvan is being investigated for a press statement that allegedly said the verdict against Anwar was politically motivated.
Police had previously arrested a popular political cartoonist and two university students also on suspicion of sedition in connection with the February 10 ruling.
Malaysia’s 1948 Sedition Act criminalises speech that could bring hatred or disaffection against the government or could create religious or racial tension. Conviction carries a penalty of up to three years imprisonment or a fine of 5,000 ringgit ($1,600) or both.