KUALA LUMPUR • A jobs recruiter, a storekeeper and a roti canai (prata) seller were yesterday hauled to a Malaysia court for allegedly insulting Prime Minister Najib Razak, in what critics have said is a move to stop the public from criticising the government.
The trio were charged separately under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. They could be jailed up to a year or fined up to RM50,000 (S$16,000) if found guilty. All claimed trial, The Star newspaper reported.
Recruiter Nor Sabariah Abdul Kadir, 29, is accused of leaving a comment on a Facebook page with the intention of insulting Datuk Seri Najib. She allegedly committed the offence on Feb 1.
Ng Thai Quen, 19, a storekeeper, is charged with posting an edited image of Mr Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor on his Facebook page last December.
Mazlan Yusoff, 48, is said to have posted an article titled Zimbabwe Today Is M'sia Tomorrow with an edited photo of Mr Najib and China's former leader Mao Zedong. He allegedly committed the offence on Facebook using a pseudonym.
The authorities in the last two years have stepped up the monitoring of social media criticisms against the government, especially those involving troubled state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, and have hauled a number of people to court for alleged infractions.
The prosecution yesterday asked the Sessions Court to set bail at RM5,000 for each of the accused.
In mitigation, the counsel for Nor Sabariah said her client has an aged mother and two disabled younger siblings to care for.
Ng, who was unrepresented, told the court he earned only RM1,000 a month. "I live with my parents. My father is here to post bail and I ask for a low bail amount," he said, as quoted by The Star.
Mazlan said he had cooperated with the authorities and hoped the court would set bail at RM1,000.
Judge Zainal L. Saleh set bail at RM3,000 in one surety for each of them.
All posted bail.
The cases will come up for mention on Oct 27.