KUALA LUMPUR: A minister says the Pakatan Harapan government is against any attempt at suppressing criticism directed at its leaders, following the arrest of a man for insulting Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“The PH government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, disagrees with the arrest of individuals who insult the government or any of its cabinet members.
“We do not stop individuals from voicing out and giving constructive criticism to the government, or to anyone who is part of the administration,” Liew Vui Keong, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department who is also the de facto law minister, told Dewan Rakyat today.
He was responding to Wong Shu Qi (PH-Kluang), who asked about the government’s stand on the arrest a man for insulting Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Former DAP member Jufazli Shi Ahmad, from Sabah, was picked up by police early Saturday after a police report was lodged against him.
Liew said the PH government held the view that anyone can criticise the government “so long as it is not personal”.
He said politicians must be ready to accept constructive criticism, even if their critics resort to name-calling.
Wong also asked on how the government could defend freedom of speech and at the same time stop those who abuse the social media.
Liew said Article 10(1) of the Federal Constitution guaranteed freedom of speech but it is subject to restrictions under the laws related to national security, bilateral ties with other countries, public peace, morality as well as parliamentary privileges.
Liew further said people were free to hold demonstrations, provided they abide by the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.
“The reforms to various Acts to provide freedom of expression are a work in progress. We do not restrict any individual from speaking out and giving constructive criticism to the government,” he said.
To a question by Fahmi Fadzil (PH-Lembah Pantai) on the government’s commitment to abolish the Sedition Act 1948, and to instruct the police to halt all investigations under the Act, Liew said such an order had already been issued.
“The government has already issued an order to the police to not use the Sedition Act against those involved.
“It is still a work in progress. A final decision will be made soon,” he added.