Critics in Malaysia have raised concern the policing of social media, which recently saw an activist lawyer arrested, could be subject to abuse. But authorities argue enforcement is necessary to combat the threat of terrorism.
By Sumisha Naidu
POSTED: 25 Mar 2015 22:17
UPDATED: 26 Mar 2015 00:04
KUALA LUMPUR: Critics in Malaysia have raised concern the policing of social media, which recently saw an activist lawyer arrested, could be subject to abuse. But authorities argue enforcement is necessary to combat the threat of terrorism.
Two tweets on an Islamic criminal code known as “hudud” landed human rights lawyer Eric Paulsen in hot water. He had written that hudud had no place in modern society as it was inhumane and that it was unfair to women.
This is a topic firmly under the spotlight in Malaysia, as Islamist party PAS pushes to implement hudud law in the northeastern state of Kelantan.
Paulsen was arrested and investigated under the country’s controversial sedition laws. Critics have slammed the move by authorities but it has only emboldened Malaysia’s Inspector General of Police who cautioned the public against debating hudud.
Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said: “I now have 90,000 Community Policing members who will support me in all things including acting against those who tweet things against the law. So watch out.”
Authorities said comments such as those posted by Paulsen are potentially hurtful to Muslims and could even provoke militant group Islamic State. But opposition party members fear that this kind of enforcement could be abused and even used against them.
PAS lawmaker Raja Bahrin said: “…what if it’s like the ISA before it…we need to see it…”
DAP’s deputy publicity chief Zairul Khir Johari said: “It’s a very localised issue. I really don’t see the link between the hudud in Malaysia and the so-called Islamic State in Syria.”
The government, however, warns that IS bears an imminent threat to the nation, and it plans to table new anti-terror laws this parliament session to allow for detention without trial.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said: “I believe that if we have laws – preventive laws, laws that allow for preventive detention – it’s better than if someone were to commit an act of terror.”