Nurul Izzah looks at legal action for her 'unlawful arrest'

PETALING JAYA - Malaysian member of Parliament Nurul Izzah Anwar was on Tuesday contemplating legal action for her "unlawful arrest and detention" which she called a tactic to intimidate the opposition.

Nurul Izzah, a lawmaker from the Lembah Pantai area of capital Kuala Lumpur, was freed on police bail Tuesday after being held overnight for alleged sedition over a speech that criticized her father Anwar Ibrahim's imprisonment for sodomy.

"I maintain that my arrest and detention was completely unnecessary, malicious, unlawful and an assault on the institution of Parliament," she said in a statement on Tuesday, according to The Star.

She claimed the government was in contempt of the courts by using provisions of an act that has been found unconstitutional by the courts, as well as in contempt of parliament by using the Sedition Act on a lawmaker for a speech in the Parliament.

Malaysia's Sedition Act, which dates from British colonial times, criminalizes speech with an undefined "seditious tendency."

Critics have said the government has used the law to silence dissent, preventing open debate and discussion, Reuters reported.

Police said Nurul Izzah's arrest was prompted by her "contemptuous remarks" last week, when she told parliament"those in the judiciary system had sold their souls to the devil", in a reference to Anwar's conviction. The arrest also aimed to help police investigations into a rally this month in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement.

Nurul Izzah said the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition would move to censure Mr Khalid. "This is against the Parliamentary immunity, as conferred by Article 63(2) of the Federal Constitution," she said.

Nurul, a mother of two children, became the latest nabbed in a sedition crackdown that has seen dozens investigated, charged or convicted over the past year, including several top opposition politicians. Anwar was convicted on February 10 of sodomising a former male aide in 2008 and sentenced to five years in jail. Anwar, who denies the charge, calls it a "political conspiracy" by the coalition in power since 1957, designed to thwart steady opposition gains in recent elections, AFP reported.

Prime Minister Najib Razak promised in 2012 to scrap the British colonial-era Sedition Act amid growing pressure for reform. But after a 2013 election setback, government critics have increasingly been targeted by the law. In November Najib said the law would be retained and even strengthened.

Nurul Izzah claimed that her arrest was a clear sign the government is desperate, and is resorting to cowardly tactics to intimidate the opposition.

"We are more determined than ever to fight against the injustice and flagrant attack on democracy," she said adding that the people should also be mindful of the other activists that continue to be remanded and victimized in the ongoing sedition dragnet.