GOING NUTS: There must be fair play

As published in Malay Mail today

Going Nuts
By Graig Nunis

FREEDOM of speech and freedom of expression are two wonderful gifts we should cherish, nurture and encourage.

The freedom to say what we want, however, does not give one the right to break the law and this applies across the board.

One must also be able to receive as well as one gives.

No one, and this applies to politicians, royalty and other high and mighty types, should beat down the masses or deny them the right of answer.

If a prince wants to speak out against the prime minister for something he perceives to be wrong, so be it. What harm is there? As long as it is not libellous, he should be allowed to say his piece.
After all, other royal houses in Malaysia have thrown their support behind the ruling party on many occasions.

There should not be double standards or rules on who they can or cannot support. 

Similarly, if a minister wants to defend his boss, he should be allowed to do so without fear of being investigated by police just because he dares question a prince — although using the word whack was well, “pretty whack”, in the fi rst place.

Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz may not be the most popular man in Malaysia at present.

The hatred for all things Barisan Nasional meant he was on the losing end when he stood up to Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim, who as some pointed out, appears to have a brilliant public relations team.

It is not every day we see such drama more so when it involves two parties who are perceived as “protected”.

Their feud may have died down on Thursday when Tunku Ismail called for a ceasefi re, but not before he claimed a day earlier that Nazri would be let off the hook for insulting royalty.

He told Malaysiakini: “Investigations are all formalities, I think nothing will happen”.

For the record, Nazri is being investigated under Section 505(b) of the Penal Code for saying among others that Tunku Ismail “should keep out of politics otherwise he may be subjected to the same rule. We will whack him.” While many are clamouring for Nazri to be charged, why are they not also calling for action against Tunku Ismail’s brother, Tunku Idris for implying Johor could secede from Malaysia? The younger prince twice posted on Instagram an image of a document said to be the agreement which allowed Johor to be part of the Malay Federation in 1946.

The original posting on June 14 — a day after Nazri’s whack comment — also stated Johor joined the federation on several conditions, with violation of any of these conditions meaning Johor could secede from Malaysia.

Malaysiakini quoted the posting: “At the time Johor was known as the independent and sovereign state of Johor.

“In 1946, the Johor government agreed to sign the Perjanjian Persekutuan with the Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, by imposing several conditions, including Islam as the offi cial religion of the state, the land in Johor being the absolute right of the Johor government and cannot be disturbed without the agreement of the Johor government, the Askar Timbalan Setia Negeri cannot be disbanded, as well as the power of the Johor government being in the hands of the sultan.

“If any of the conditions are violated, Johor will be out of Malaysia [sic].” Although Tunku Idris took down the post the following day, he then reposted it — without any amendments.

Is this act not a more serious threat than allegedly insulting a royalty? Why are the people of Sabah and Sarawak constantly threatened with action for saying life would be better without orang semenanjung but no action against a prince who, not once but twice, posted about the possibility of Johor breaking away? Secession is supposed to be defined as seditious under the Sedition Act.

Why the double standard? Constitutional expert Dr Abdul Aziz Bari told Malaysiakini: “Only (the) nine Sultans enjoy legal impunity. The Johor prince does not have this privilege.” He also said those who spoke secession about should be investigated under the Sedition Act 1948, regardless of who they are.

However, at the time of writing, there was no news what action, if any, Tunku Idris could face. And probably never will.

Graig is sports editor, Malay Mail and admires Hang Jebat for not blindly following orders.
He can be reached at gnunis@mmail.com.my or on Twitter @gnunis1892

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