Malaysia must properly define what statements are considered insulting to the royal institution, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday.
“At the moment, our enforcement officers do not understand what is considered insult, so we need to spell out what sort of actions or words can be construed as insults.
“I have said before that Malaysia now practises freedom of speech. With this freedom of speech, if you say something is factual, you cannot be prosecuted.
“On the other hand, if we shut the mouths of everyone until people cannot even speak up against acts of crime, then there will be injustice in the country,” said Dr Mahathir at a press conference in Putrajaya.
The PM was commenting on the arrests of three individuals for insulting Sultan Muhammad V, reported The Star Online.
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.
National police chief 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 trio face up to three years in jail if found guilty.
Latheefa Koya, executive director of rights group Lawyers for Liberty, criticised the arrests, telling AFP: "The police should not give in to mob rule amid the push by some people for the authorities to act."
A statement from the group, which pushes for legal reforms, added that the sedition act was a "draconian piece of legislation" and it was shocking Malaysia's new administration was using it.