Kuala Lumpur: Three people have been arrested in Malaysia for allegedly insulting the former king on social media after his shock abdication, sparking anger Thursday from activists at the use of "draconian" laws.
Anger at arrests in Malaysia for alleged royal insults
Sultan Muhammad V stepped aside at the weekend after just two years on the throne. No official reason was given, but it came after he reportedly married a Russian ex-beauty queen while on medical leave. It was the first time a Malaysian monarch had given up the throne before the end of his term. Under a unique arrangement, the throne changes hands every five years between the rulers of the nine states headed by Islamic royalty. National police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun said two men aged 46 and 27, and a 26-year-old woman, were arrested under tough sedition laws Tuesday for allegedly posting insulting remarks about the abdication on Facebook and Twitter.
The government, which came to power last year after ousting an authoritarian regime, had pledged in its election manifesto to abolish the act and several other laws seen as repressive, but is yet to do so. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad also suggested authorities should not overzealously target people accused of posting insults. "With regards to freedom of speech, if someone speaks factually, you cannot criminalise the person," he said. "If we shut everyone's mouth ... even when a crime has happened, then there will be injustice in the country."