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Sanusi’s Apology To Selangor Sultan May Not Be Enough, Says Law Minister

Sanusi’s Apology To Selangor Sultan May Not Be Enough, Says Law Minister

Law Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman said anyone playing up 3R issues committed an offence under the law and an apology isn’t a legal defence.

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Caretaker Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor has apologised to Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah on Friday with an explanation of how his speech, given on 11 July, was “spun” to defame him.

Police reports were lodged against Sanusi for allegedly belittling the Selangor Sultan for appointing Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari as Selangor Mentri Besar.

READ MORE: Loke Challenges Sanusi’s Bribe Claims: No Proof, No Apology

Sanusi said on Facebook that he sent a letter to Istana Selangor to explain his side of the story to the Selangor Ruler.

He has also given his statement to the police from Bukit Aman at 2am on Friday to assist in investigations.

While Sanusi has openly apologized, Law Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said an apology may not be enough to wipe the slate clean as an apology does not amount to a legal defence in law.

Azalina explained that anyone who raises divisive issues, disrupts public peace and does not respect the royal institution has committed wrongdoing according to the law and it cannot be resolved with an apology.

She added that although the freedom of expression is enshrined under Article 10(1)(a), the same right is also subject to Article 10(2), which ensures the preservation of public peace and harmony.

As politicians or someone bestowed with power, we must realise that our words have the power to influence the public, especially during election season. Let the police be given the freedom to investigate those who raise 3R issues that breach the law without the interference of any parties.

Law Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said

Gov mulls new law to penalise those who play up 3R sentiments

On 13 July, Azalina said the government is mulling a new law to impose civil penalties on those who play up 3R (race, religion, and royalty) sentiments.

The new act, if it comes to fruition, may be called the State and Nation Act, similar to Singapore’s Maintenance of Racial Harmony Act.

Currently, any offence involving the 3R issue is investigated under the Sedition Act 1948. Since the Sedition Act is geared towards criminal offences, this involves a longer prosecution process due to legal procedures.

Under the proposed State and Nation Act, the process will be swift because anyone who violates the law will be fined.

This proposal to fine individuals who play up 3R sentiments concerned some lawyers.

According to Free Malaysia Today, Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said only a court of law can determine whether a 3R offence has been committed.

In other words, the decision to issue fines cannot be left to the whim and fancy of enforcement officers or the powers that be.

Additionally, Lawyers for Liberty director Zaid Malek said such proposals must be spelt out clearly, with safeguards built-in to ensure it’s not abused for political purposes or to stem public discourse.

Zaid said clear parameters must be established so authorities and the public are clear on what is prohibited.

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