When an opinion becomes a criminal matter

13 January 2015

It took no fewer than 20 policemen to arrest Eric Paulsen last night, just hours after Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin asked for an investigation into the human rights lawyer’s tweet that religious authorities were promoting extremism through Friday prayer sermons.

And it took no less than the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar to use the same Twitter microblogging network to announce Paulsen’s arrest – akin to revealing a major breakthrough in solving crime or arrest of kingpins.

Impressive, to say the least, considering that Paulsen was left unmolested when he lodged a report earlier yesterday over death threats following his tweet, which he had taken down after a barrage of criticism.

There was no move to arrest him then although the IGP had already said there would be a probe into the lawyer’s tweet under the Sedition Act. None. Like clockwork, action was only taken after the DPM commented on the matter.

What is even more impressive is that Paulsen had yet to be remanded for the federal police chief to send off a series of tweets on Paulsen’s opinion about Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) sermons promoting extremism.

“@PDRMsia. Jgn ambil mudah Keamaman yg kita sama2 kecapi ini. Jgn sesekali cuba mérosakkan/koyakkan fabric masyarakat majmuk yg kita…

“@PDRMsia Eric Paulsen angkuh dan ingat dia akan berjaya menghasut Rakyat Malaysia supaya menghancurkan semangat masyarakat 1 M’sia kita.

“@PDRMsia bagi amaran kpd mana2 org baik lelaki dan wanita yg bersekongkol dgn nya supaya lebih waras dan jgn cuba mengancam…

“@PDRMsia …keamanan dan kesejahteraan Malaysia,” the IGP said on his timeline.

It would appear that in the eyes of the police and government, an opinion about a government agency can be a criminal offence. When did it become an offence to hold an opinion in Malaysia?

All the more so when the federal police chief has decided that on the basis of one tweet, Paulsen wants to incite Malaysians to destroy the 1Malaysia spirit. Really? Can we conflate questioning Jakim to either insulting Islam or demolishing the 1Malaysia spirit? What rocket science is this?

In defending Jakim, Muhyiddin said that many non-Muslims do not know Islam. Probably but most Malaysians understand the language of divisiveness and fairness.

As mentioned before, Paulsen must answer for his tweet but there should not be any selective persecution in Malaysia. Others who have threatened slaps or to burn holy books have gotten away without even a slap on the wrist.

Now if that is not bordering on a criminal offence, what more an opinion? – January 13, 2015.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 13 January 2015 - 9:22 am

    Just you watch, as soon as the bring out the Jakim sermon as evidence, the civil court will avoid getting into it. Bloody nonsense Hudud does not affect non-Muslim. 121 (1a) was never workable and given the wreckage done by Mahathir on the judiciary, it was guaranteed to make these messes..

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