PETALING JAYA: Several lawyers have expressed concern over law and institutional reform minister Azalina Othman Said’s suggestion that alternative forms of action be taken against those accused of making offensive remarks concerning race, religion and royalty (3R).
Haniff Khatri Abdulla said the proposal was flawed, adding that only a court of law has the power to determine whether a 3R offence has been committed.
“At the end of the day, you cannot compromise (on) justice. It cannot be left to the whim and fancy of enforcement officers or the powers-that-be to issue fines,” he told FMT.
At a recent forum, Azalina suggested that 3R offenders be dealt with outside the court system, such as through the imposition of fines.
Lawyers for Liberty director Zaid Malek said any such proposal must be clearly spelt out, with safeguards built-in to ensure it is not abused for political purposes or to stifle public discourse.
He said such a proposal cannot be left ambiguous, vague or capable of being used indiscriminately on anything perceived as a transgression by the authorities.
“Clear parameters must be established, so that both the authorities and the public are clear on what (is) prohibited,” he said.
At a recent media conference, Inspector-General of Police Razarudin Husain said police were investigating 61 incidents of potential 3R offences which have occurred since March this year.
This list includes a complaint involving Kedah menteri besar Sanusi Nor, who is alleged to have insulted the Sultan of Selangor during a recent speech.
Several other political leaders, including Dr Mahathir Mohamad and DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng, have also been investigated by the police over recent comments allegedly touching on 3R issues.