PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has expressed regret over the arrest of a social media activist on Thursday night (May 9).
Dr Mahathir, in a series of tweets, noted that he was informed that the authorities arrested the individual, whose name was not revealed, on Thursday night.
"As I have stressed before, no leaders are free from criticism. The rakyat is free to criticise leaders if necessary. The freedom to express is also crucial in a democratic society," he tweeted from his official account (@chedetofficial).
He noted that with the exception of threatening, defaming, or insulting any ruling royals, any leader could be criticised.
"I regret the arrest of the social media activist," Dr Mahathir added.
It is learnt that the individual arrested was Neon Berapi chief editor Firdaus Abdillah Hamzah, who was detained for allegedly badmouthing Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim in a series of tweets.
The alleged tweets were not found on Firdaus' Twitter (@Pipiyapong).
Firdaus, on his account, tweeted that he was required to meet the police on Thursday afternoon, and asked people to stay calm.
He later tweeted, "I need a lawyer."
Meanwhile, activist and graphic designer Fahmi Reza posted on his Facebook post about Firdaus' arrest, adding that he was detained in a police station in Tampoi, Johor, over the alleged tweets.
"After a year in power, the new (Pakatan Harapan) government should not follow the previous regime, which uses the law to limit social media users, and arrest people for 'sakitkan hati orang lain' (hurting people's feelings) on Twitter," he added.
Meanwhile, Tunku Ismail, on his Twitter account, distanced himself from the incident, adding that the Johor Palace has not made any police report.
"If there is any report, it could be made by other people. This has nothing to do with us," he wrote.
The Johor Prince also noted that he and the royal family would like to carry out their responsibility and worship with the rakyat during the holy month of Ramadan.