As the political scene in Malaysia becomes increasingly worrying, the King has become more influential than ever such as seen with the decision to brush off Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s proposal for a state of emergency.
As police are currently investigating four Twitter and Facebook account owners for allegedly insulting the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on social media, it only adds on to the ever-increasing number of people who have been punished with jail time or a fine for doing so.
These all came amid the political turmoil that is plundering the nation right now, and the latest person to be arrested for doing so is Sungai Pelek assemblyman Ronnie Liu after he allegedly posted remarks on social media that were seen as instigating hatred towards the Royal family.
The tweet who has now been deleted, seemed to have referenced the ongoing protests that are going on in Thailand instead; nonetheless, Liu was still brought in by the police for up to 4 hours of questioning.
While the previous governments had promised to repeal the Sedition Act in 2012 and then 2018, it all led to the attorney general’s office considering higher penalties instead in 2019 regarding sedition cases, raising concerns about the country’s commitment to reform.
In 2015 alone, at least 91 individuals were arrested, charged or investigated for sedition – almost five times as many as during the law’s first 50 years of existence; at least hundreds more have been charged ever since.
The act currently bans any act, speech, or publication that criticizes the government or the rulers of Malaysia’s nine states. It carries a maximum punishment of three years in prison for first offenders.