Proposed laws not meant to expand immunity of royal institution, says govt

PETALING JAYA: Proposed new legislation to protect the sanctity of the royal institution from attacks by irresponsible people are not aimed at giving the royals greater immunity, the government said tonight.

Rather, they are aimed at making the existing laws clearer, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department VK Liew said in a statement tonight.

He hoped the new legislation will discourage insults to the royal institution.

The de facto law minister was expanding on his earlier announcement that Putrajaya would enact new legislation, or amend existing ones, to protect the sanctity of the monarchy.

He said the laws must provide proper punishment for irresponsible people bent on disparaging the royal institution.

At least three people were arrested under the Sedition Act 1948 following social media comments deemed insulting to the rulers after Sultan Muhammad V stepped down as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

They have now been released on police bail.

Following this, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government would consider what constituted an insult before any introduction of stiffer laws to protect the monarchy from criticism.

Commenting on the use of the Sedition Act, Mahathir said the authorities likely did not understand what was considered an insult and what was not.

Earlier today, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Noor Rashid Ibrahim defended the arrest of the three under the Sedition Act, stating that their comments on social media were shared widely and could threaten public order and peace.