Cops nab student for stepping on PM’s photo
UPDATED @ 04:31:44 PM 04-09-2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 — Police detained today a college student suspected of having stepped on pictures of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak during last Thursday’s street celebration of Malaysia’s 55th National Day at Dataran Merdeka, a Bukit Aman official said.
“We received a public tip-off on his whereabouts before locating him at his college.
“The police also spoke to two other witnesses who were there during the event,” Datuk Abdul Jalil Hassan, who is the federal police force’s Criminal Investigation Department’s (CID) principal assistant director, was quoted by The Star Online as telling reporters.
The senior police officer was reported to have said that the yet-to-named 19-year-old was picked up from his campus in Cheras here and would be taken to the Dang Wangi district police station to help in investigations.
The police were reported to have set up three task forces to investigate three separate incidents of hooliganism that took place over the National Day weekend.
A firestorm erupted last week after several individuals were recorded tearing up posters bearing images of the prime minister, his wife and Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof at the same event.
Several other people were spotted waving a flag with an alternative design ― now identified as the Sang Saka Malaya ― instead of the Jalur Gemilang at the National Day bash last Thursday night.
Bukit Aman’s CID director Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Zinin told The Malaysian Insider yesterday that the police were probing the two separate incidents under the Sedition Act ― despite Putrajaya’s decision to repeal the controversial law that has been widely panned as a tool to curb political dissent.
Mohd Bakri said the police were probing the flag incident as an attempt to incite hatred with intent to create public disorder under section 4 (1)(a) of the Sedition Act 1948.
He added that stepping on pictures of Najib and wife were considered offences under sections 290 and 504 of the Penal Code for being public nuisances and intentionally causing insult with an intent to provoke break the public peace respectively.
Those convicted under section 290 can be fined up to RM400 while those found guilty under section 504 can be jailed up to two years or fined, or both.
However, section 4 (1)(a) of the Sedition Act prescribes a mandatory jail term of three years or a fine of up to RM5,000 for first offenders, which is subsequently raised to five years’ jail for repeated offences.
One person has owned up to waving the Sang Saka Malaya flag instead of the Jalur Gemilang during the 55th National Day countdown here last week but defended the act as an attempt to educate the public about the country’s history instead of being a bid to replace the national flag.
Opposition leaders and the organisers of the “Janji Demokrasi” rally — a group of 47 NGOs that had gathered at the same venue that night to remind the Barisan Nasional (BN) of its electoral reform pledges — have been blamed for the acts.
Leaders from the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) opposition pact and the Janji Demokrasi organisers have denied the allegations, rubbishing the claims as “baseless” attempts from their political foes to gain points ahead of the 13th general election due soon.
Political rivalry between BN and PR has intensified in recent days as the window for the next poll narrows in a race that could see a regime change in Malaysia for the first time in 55 years.