PUTRAJAYA (Bernama) – The government is to define the words or actions that can be construed as insults to the institution of the monarchy, Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday.
The proper definition of these words or actions was necessary for enforcement in the future, he said when asked to comment on the arrest of three people under the Sedition Act for having allegedly used insulting words against Sultan Muhammad V who has stepped down as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
“Right now, the enforcement authorities do not understand what tantamount to an insult, so we have to spell out what the actions or words are that can be construed as insulting,” he told a press conference after chairing a meeting of the Special Cabinet Committee on Anti-Corruption.
Asked about the new legislation to be drafted to protect the sanctity of the institution of the monarchy from insults, as announced by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong earlier yesterday, Dr Mahathir said the government would find the proper definition for insult.
Several quarters have criticised the arrest of the three people on Wednesday to assist in the investigation into the alleged posting of insults on the social media over the resignation of Sultan Muhammad V as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Dr Mahathir said Malaysia now practised freedom of speech where individuals who spoke facts could not be faulted.
“On the contrary, if we prohibit everyone from speaking, so much so that they do not even report when a crime occurs, there will be injustice in our country,” he said.
Asked what his intention was in having an audience with the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, in Johor Bahru yesterday, Dr Mahathir said, “I wish to meet His Royal Highness, that’s all.”
A local newspaper quoted a source from the Prime Minister’s Office as saying that the Sultan granted an audience to Dr Mahathir, the first since he became the Prime Minister after the 14th General Election last May.
The source, when asked whether the election of the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong would be discussed at the meeting with Sultan Ibrahim, said many matters had to be discussed at the audience.