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Abuse of power and waste of time, lawyers say on police probe over pic of Wan Azizah, Netanyahu's wife

Lawyers for Liberty also takes the police to task over claims that activist Syarul Ema had been 'uncooperative' in the investigation.

3 minute read
Lawyers for Liberty's Zaid Malek (left) with Syarul Ema, better known as Ratu Naga, outside the Bukit Aman police headquarters yesterday.
Lawyers for Liberty's Zaid Malek (left) with Syarul Ema, better known as Ratu Naga, outside the Bukit Aman police headquarters yesterday.

Lawyers group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today took the country's top cop to task over his response to a case involving the wife of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, calling police involvement in the matter a clear abuse of power and a waste of public funds. 

LFL director Zaid Malek also rubbished the claim of criminal defamation in the investigation which centred on the reproduction of a post by Syarul Ema, a local political influencer better known as Ratu Naga.

Ratu Naga had republished an Instagram post by Benjamin Netanyahu, which showed Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail attending a session for the spouses of heads of states which included the Israeli leader's wife, Sara Netanyahu.

"The picture was uploaded by the Israeli PM, his wife and Wan Azizah herself in their Instagram account. 

"There is no element of criminal defamation or any other offence arising from subsequent displays of the picture, as allegedly done by Syarul Ema," said Zaid.

Ratu Naga was called in for questioning at the Bukit Aman police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. 

Zaid said if Wan Azizah was aggrieved by the matter, she was free to file a defamation suit in the civil courts. 

"The PM’s wife does not hold any special status; she has the same rights as any other citizen. Article 8 of the Federal Constitution promises equality of all before the law, regardless of their status in society.

"The fact that the full might of the police is being used to clamp down on social media users for any criticism or disaffection against those in the government or those married to them, is tyrannical and is contrary to a healthy democracy," he said. 

Zaid also slammed the remark by Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Razarudin Husain that Ratu Naga had been "uncooperative" when giving her statement to the police by not answering the questions posed to her. 

"Contrary to the claims of the IGP, there was no legal obligation for Syarul Ema to answer police questions in this misconceived investigation. The right to remain silent during police interrogation is the cornerstone of our criminal justice system, codified under Section 112(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code. 

"Section 112(2) clearly states that any person can exercise their right to remain silent to any questions that may expose them to a criminal charge. The IGP cannot claim to be ignorant of Section 112(2). If he truly is, then he is not fit to hold the position of IGP," he said. 

Describing the investigation as "inane and farcical", he compared the situation to that under the Najib Razak administration which he said Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders had "vociferously" criticised.

"The PH-led government has with every passing day forgotten their promises of reform to the public as they now have no qualms in utilising the same laws that they were once victims to."

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Ratu Naga had described the complaint lodged against her as a "false police report".

"For your information, I did not edit or break any laws, or make any negative comments on the photograph. I feel the police report was lodged against the wrong person. PKR should have lodged the report against Benjamin Netanyahu. He was the one who posted it, not me. And I have never edited (the picture) at all," she said after being questioned by Bukit Aman police.