Malaysia has no plans to emulate Thailand and enact lese majeste law

Malaysia's new king Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Sultan Ahmad Shah taking the oath as the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong at the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur, on Jan 31.
Malaysia's new king Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Sultan Ahmad Shah taking the oath as the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong at the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur, on Jan 31.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

ISKANDAR PUTERI, JOHOR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia has no plans to follow the footsteps of Thailand in enacting a lese majeste law to protect its Malay rulers.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Liew Vui Keong said the country had adequate laws to protect the position of the King, known as Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and other Malay rulers.

However, he did not rule out the possibility of the government making amendments or introducing new laws to further protect the royal institution.

"We practise the constitutional monarchy system here, where we have a Parliament and our King is the supreme authority based upon our Constitution," he said.

"People are free to voice out their views, but these must be within limitation and not against the law by making allegations or defaming our Rulers."

Comments that are currently deemed by law to be seditious include those that "create discontent or disaffection among the subjects of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong or of the ruler of any state". Offenders can be fined up to RM5,000 (S$1,650) or jailed for up to three years, or both.

Although the Malay rulers have rather limited roles as constitutional monarchs at state and federal levels, they are seen as important symbols of Malay political power and protectors of Islam in the Malay-majority country of about 32 million people.

 
 

The King holds special discretionary powers, including swearing in the prime minister and pardoning convicts.

Mr Liew said earlier this year that the Pakatan Harapan government will seek to enact new laws and amend existing ones to protect the country's Malay rulers from slander.

His comments come after three people were arrested for allegedly insulting Kelantan's Sultan Muhammad V after he stepped down as king on Jan 6.

The Sultan of Pahang, Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin, was officially sworn in as Malaysia's 16th King in a traditional ceremony a month later.