KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 — The unity government is not abusing the law to charge federal Opposition leaders but to protect Malaysia’s royal institution, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said in an interview with international news broadcaster CNN.
Currently in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, Anwar was responding to the perception his administration is using the colonial-era law that his Pakatan Harapan coalition had demanded to be reformed to quell critics now that he is in power.
“When you attack the Rulers, the Sultans, we have a law. Unless we are able to make some amendments to the law, then we can consider whether to charge or not. I think there is a need to protect the institution. That's what the people have decided from independence. That's the system we inherited.
“There's a law until we are able to amend that law, and the law persists,” he told CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour in an interview yesterday.
They were alluding to the use of the Sedition Act against PAS politician Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor who was accused of making remarks that insulted the Selangor sultan in the appointment of Anwar’s party colleague Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari as the state menteri besar.
Sanusi, who is also Kedah menteri besar, was charged in July with two counts of sedition ahead of key elections in six states on August 12 that maintained the status quo.
Following criticism against the Anwar administration after the charging, the Selangor Royal Office released a statement categorising Sanusi's comments as an affront to the integrity of the state royal institution.
During the CNN interview, Amanpour noted that PKR’s Pasir Gudang lawmaker Hassan Abdul Karim had previously commented about Anwar’s focus after becoming prime minister.
She asked Anwar to comment on Hassan’s view that Malaysia’s 10th PM appeared to be occupied with preserving his government's power rather than advancing the promised reform agenda.
“Look at it positively, as a member of my party expressing criticisms against me, that is a very democratic process.
“You see, any criticism against the prime minister or the government, I don't charge for sedition. I have been abused on a daily basis, but none has been charged,” he replied.