LAWYERS for Liberty (LFL) has criticised Putrajaya for conducting a criminal defamation investigation against Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, arguing that the government should have filed a civil lawsuit against the former prime minister instead.
According to LFL director Zaid Malik, it is “appalling and undemocratic” that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s political secretary Muhammad Kamil Abdul Munim had lodged a police report alleging defamation in the first place.
“It is unlawful, unconstitutional, and tyrannical for the prime minister or any minister to rely on enforcement authorities to clamp down on any speech that ‘creates a negative perception’ of their leadership, as claimed by Anwar’s political secretary,” Zaid remarked in a statement.
“If Anwar or anyone in the government feels they have been defamed, there is recourse in the civil courts that is available to clear their name.
“In our democracy, the prime minister has no special status under the law that sets him apart from ordinary citizens. It is unlawful for him to utilise the police to defend his reputation.”
Zaid went on to ask if Anwar can remember how Pakatan Harapan (PH) members were subjected to similar police investigations when Datuk Seri Najib Razak was prime minister.
Zaid also urged Anwar to direct his aide to immediately withdraw the police report and bring the matter to civil courts.
“The police must also halt any criminal investigation for the alleged defamatory statements immediately,” he said.
Anwar’s political secretary had lodged the police report against Muhyiddin in response to the Bersatu president’s allegation that the government was misappropriating enforcement agencies for political oppression.
In his police report, Muhammad Kamil accused Muhyiddin of slander when the latter claimed that he was the victim of political persecution and abuse of government authority.
Muhyiddin is currently on trial for abuse of power and money laundering in relation to the Jana Wibawa scheme. – March 15, 2023
Main pic credit: NST