KL police 'will act against plot to unseat govt'

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claimed an Umno leader was trying to topple the government. Three police reports have been lodged.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claimed an Umno leader was trying to topple the government. Three police reports have been lodged.

Malaysian police have said they would take action against attempts to topple the government, after three reports were lodged following claims that an Umno leader was trying to overthrow Prime Minister Najib Razak's administration.

Police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said investigations would be carried out under the Penal Code, for acts "detrimental to parliamentary democracy".

"We will take action if it is discovered there are attempts to topple the government through unconstitutional means," he told reporters yesterday.

The country had been abuzz with rumours after Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claimed that an Umno leader was trying to topple the government with the help of the opposition, and that this person would meet Datuk Seri Najib on Sunday evening.

His comments led to journalists spending a fruitless night camping outside Mr Najib's residence.

TAKING THE FIGHT ONLINE

The online environment is not a lawless space and action can be taken against anyone found to have breached the law, including in the online space.

DATUK SERI SALLEH SAID KERUAK, Malaysia's Communications Minister, who said yesterday that the authorities would ask Facebook, Google and Twitter to curb "false information and rumours" for public safety.

Datuk Seri Zahid has not revealed who the leader is, except to say that it was an "old man" - but not his predecessor Muhyiddin Yassin, who was sacked as deputy prime minister last month following critical statements on Mr Najib and troubled state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The claim has led to a flurry of denials from Umno leaders, including the outspoken and controversial Sabah Umno MP Bung Moktar Radin.

He was one of 20 MPs named in a pro-Najib blog on Sunday as part of an alleged conspiracy to topple the government. Other names included Tan Sri Muhyiddin and sacked minister Shafie Apdal, both of whom had already denied such claims.

"I have never been a traitor to the party," Datuk Bung said in a statement yesterday.

"This is a serious and regrettable accusation," he said.

Amid swirling rumours, veteran Umno MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah also denied any involvement, although he admitted meeting former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, one of Mr Najib's fiercest critics.

Mr Najib has been under pressure to resign, following allegations of mismanagement at debt-laden 1MDB - of which he is chief adviser - and a US$700 million (S$980 million) donation into his bank account.

The controversy over 1MDB has also led to NGO Bersih calling for a rally ahead of Malaysia's national day on Aug 31, which Tan Sri Khalid said the police would be watching closely.

The police chief urged the organisers not to hold the rally at Dataran Merdeka in downtown Kuala Lumpur and warned its leaders to be careful, saying that if the group intended to topple the government through a street demonstration, the police would "take preventive measures".

"If any individual or political party tries to topple the government without following the Constitution and the law, we will take action," he said.

Separately, Malaysia's Communications Minister also announced yesterday that the authorities would ask Facebook, Google and Twitter to curb "false information and rumours" for public safety.

This comes after two publications, which had written extensively on 1MDB's woes, were suspended for three months for purportedly prejudicial and false reporting.

"The online environment is not a lawless space and action can be taken against anyone found to have breached the law, including in the online space," said Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2015, with the headline 'KL police 'will act against plot to unseat govt''. Print Edition | Subscribe