Tuesday, January 21, 2020 | ePaper

Malaysia queen denounces arrest of online critics

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Malaysia's queen has briefly returned to Twitter to express disappointment at police arresting people for allegedly insulting her on social media.
The Raja Permaisuri Agong said she and the king had not asked the police to act and she was very upset at the news.
This followed Friday's arrest of an activist in the western city of Klang for allegedly posting insults.
The Raja Permaisuri Agong is thought to have first deleted her account on Wednesday.
It prompted thousands of Malaysians to urge her to reconsider and continue posting updates.
The Raja Permaisuri Agong - full name Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah Sultan Iskandar - is the wife of Malaysia's current head of state.
Malaysia has an unusual constitutional monarchy, where the top job rotates between nine hereditary state rulers every five years.
In a series of tweets that have now been deleted, the Raja Permaisuri Agong said she had originally left Twitter for personal reasons.
"I am truly upset that the police have detained those people. Through the years, my husband and I have never made any police report on bad things said about us," she wrote, according to the Straits Times newspaper.
"It's a free country," she added.
She said she had reactivated her Twitter account after hearing about the arrest because she was "angry and upset".
"I myself told the Pihak Istana to inform the police to not take any action. I repeat again, I did not deactivate my account because of them," she said.
"My husband and I have never made police reports, and I have never been sad (when I read comments about me); instead I laugh because Allah knows who I am!" she added.
Late on Friday evening Khalid Ismath, a member of the Parti Socialis Malaysia (PSM) party, was arrested for allegedly posting offensive messages about the queen.
He was arrested under a 1948 sedition law - which has long been criticised by the political opposition and rights groups - and subsequently spent the night in a police station before being released on bail on Saturday.
Lawyers and local rights groups criticised Mr Ismath's arrest. Sevan Doraisamy, head of local rights group Suaram, said it amounted to "nothing more than intimidation" by police.
PSM deputy chairman S Arutchelvan told the Straits Times that the arrest had been unnecessary and said Mr Ismath had denied insulting the queen.
Before briefly reappearing on Twitter, she posted on Instagram that she had left Twitter for personal reasons and not because she was offended at what people were writing about her. She also urged people against reporting posts to the police.
The Raja Permaisuri Agong had been criticised on social media during Malaysia's Independence Day celebrations on 31 August for taking lots of photographs, with some saying she had "behaved like a small child", according to the Malaysia Star newspaper.
But she responded that the king had asked her to take the pictures.

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