- Advertisement -

PMO should clarify, did Anwar call for police probe against critics or not?

The knee-jerk reaction of resorting to the police is worrying and runs counter to promises of reform.

Zaid Malek
2 minute read

We refer to the statement issued on Dec 1 by PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution denying that the Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim had ordered a police probe against Baling MP Hassan Saad for allegedly calling him an Israeli agent.

LFL finds it surprising that Saifuddin denies that the prime minister ordered the police probe, while failing to address the fact that the probe came soon after Fahmi Fadzil’s statement that Anwar himself ordered the police to act against those who called him an Israeli agent.

In LFL’s statement on Nov 30, we had said that it was an abuse of power for the prime minister to order police investigations against persons who slander him or call him an Israeli agent, as he is an interested party. We firmly stand by that statement. 

It was PKR information chief Fahmi who made the public statement on Nov 28 that Anwar had ordered the police to investigate those who slander him or call him an Israeli agent. Fahmi’s statement was never rebutted or denied by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) or Anwar himself.  

We quote below Fahmi's exact words. 

"Anwar has no intention to take action against those who criticise (him or Pakatan Harapan), but we draw the line at slander and accusations of being an Israeli agent. He has asked the police to take action."

Subsequent to the statement by Fahmi, the police announced that Hassan was being investigated for allegedly claiming that Anwar is an Israeli agent. Coming soon after Fahmi’s statement, this clearly raised questions and generated a negative public perception of the administration of justice.

It is thus false, misleading and ridiculous for Saifuddin to accuse us of making an allegation which actually arose directly from a statement made by Fahmi, who is his own party colleague.

Hence, Saifuddin's statement has created only further confusion. 

It is in the public interest that this matter be promptly clarified. The PMO must now clarify as follows:

1. Did the new prime minister Anwar give an order for police to investigate slander against him as well as allegations that he is an Israeli agent, as stated by Fahmi? 

2. If yes, does the prime minister stand by this order or retract it, as it involves a matter in which he is an interested party? 

This knee-jerk reaction of resorting to the police is worrying and runs counter to their promise of reform. We reiterate that objectionable, false or even offensive statements, even if directed against the prime minister, do not warrant criminal investigation. That should only be reserved for statements which incite violence or injury to the public. The prime minister's reputation and image are not matters of "national interest and security", as alleged by Saifuddin.

Zaid Malek is director of Lawyers for Liberty.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.