PUTRAJAYA – The Malaysian government will enact legislation to protect the monarchy from “slander and attacks” in the wake of the unprecedented resignation of the country’s constitutional monarch.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong said on Thursday (Jan 10) that existing laws will also be amended, the official Bernama news agency reported.
“Ours is a constitutional monarchy. So, the government must always ensure that our rulers are protected from unfounded slander and attacks by irresponsible people,” Datuk Liew was quoted as telling reporters after delivering a new year message to staff of the Legal Affairs Division in the Prime Minister’s Department.
The move comes as Malaysia grapples with the abrupt resignation of Kelantan Sultan Muhammad V as the country’s 15th king, or Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, purportedly following his recent marriage to a Russian model.
The sultan’s unprecedented departure mid-way through his five-year term sparked a scramble to avert a constitutional crisis. The new king is now due to be selected by the Conference of Rulers on Jan 24, and be sworn in on Jan 31.
Police have arrested three people under the Sedition Act for allegedly mocking the former monarch on Facebook and Twitter.
Things that are deemed to be seditious by law include those that “raise discontent or disaffection amongst the subjects of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong or of the ruler of any state”.
Offenders can be fined up to RM5,000 or jailed up to three years, or both.
Mr Liew said the laws must provide for the punishment of “irresponsible people” who do not respect the institution of the monarchy. Current penalties for certain offences against the monarchy were too lenient, he was cited by Bernama as saying.
“The objective is to ensure that our constitutional monarchy will always be protected from all kinds of attack,” Mr Liew said.
The government would study the constitutional monarchies in Commonwealth countries for the new laws, he added.
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