PSM wants Suaram to start campaign over arrests for royal slurs

By Azril Annuar
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) representative S. Arutchelvan speaks at the press conference on the anti-GST May Day rally, on April 25, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7—Concerned with growing arrests over alleged insults against the Johor royal house, PSM has asked rights advocacy group Suaram to start a campaign to publicise the matter.

PSM central committee member S. Arutchelvan accused authorities of inciting fear with the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) by allegedly arrest people for “joking online”.

“People joke and the next thing you know they are arrested and have been dragged to Johor. I think Suaram needs to organise a concerted campaign about what to do with Johor. The people in Johor find it difficult to even hold a candlelight vigil at night,” he said

“Some (Johor) lawyers won’t take up cases (regarding the royal family) and we need to get Kuala Lumpur lawyers down there,” said Arutchelvan at the launch of Suaram’s 2017 Malaysia Human Rights Report Overview today.

Based on a cursory online check by Malay Mail, six people have been arrested while another four were investigated this year for posting comments deemed insulting to the Johor royal family on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram.

Arutchelvan told reporters later that authorities should not be overzealous in policing public comments that were not menacing or threatening in nature.

Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy accepted the call, but said his group will need time to  ”sit down and strategise” on how to conduct the campaign.

His fellow director, Kua Kia Soong, stressed that the campaign will not be about the royalty, but rather rule of law in Malaysia.