Malaysian PM Mahathir says does not agree with police action against critics after man arrested

Maria Chin Abdullah (centre) gestures after a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on March 6, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (BERNAMA) - Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said on Friday (May 18) he does not agree that action must be taken against any individual who criticises him.

"I have informed the police about this. This law will be reviewed when Parliament convenes," he said in a post on his Twitter account.

Dr Mahathir had uploaded the post with a link to a media report on the arrest of a man in Langkawi over alleged insulting remarks made against the Prime Minister and Islam on a Facebook account.

The Facebook account of the Langkawi District Police headquarters, which carried the news of the arrest, said the suspect was detained following police reports made by the representatives of several NGOs.

The account also said that the suspect was being remanded until Sunday to facilitate the investigation.

On Friday, Petaling Jaya MP and former chairperson of electoral reform group Bersih Maria Chin Abdullah said the police reports against those accused of insulting Dr Mohamad on social media run contrary to the new Pakatan Harapan government's policy of upholding freedom of expression.

She said in a statement that such reports lead to the creation of a culture of fear that the Pakatan administration does not intend to promote.

Ms Maria also criticised the actions of those who lodged the reports, adding that their actions have insulted the government's ability to guarantee freedom of expression.

"We should not follow the previous administration's disgraceful methods when dealing with criticism. This should be an era of new and inclusive politics for Malaysia," she said.

She added that since stepping away from former ruling party Umno, Dr Mahathir has proven time and time again that he is not someone who is unable to handle criticism.

She said that Dr Mahathir has been able to carry on working despite being the target of insults and criticism aimed at him for his role in the Citizen's Declaration, forming Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and being part of the opposition.

She noted however that while freedom of expression allows for criticism against the government, insults that are violent and aggressive, such as death threats, should not be tolerated.

In a statement posted on the official Langkawi IPD Facebook page on Thursday, police said that the suspect was arrested after several NGOs filed a police report against him the day before.

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