A news anchor at Astro Awani is being investigated by the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) for allegedly slandering cops on television
The investigation is being carried out under multiple charges.
The first charge involves Section 504 of the Penal Code that criminalises insults intended to "provoke a breach of peace", and the second charge involves Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act.
Under Section 504, a person found guilty can be jailed for two years, fined, or both. Meanwhile, Section 233, which covers abuse of network facilities, is punishable with a fine of RM50,000, jail for a year, or both.
Astro Awani has since pledged to give full cooperation
In a statement earlier today, 1 May, its editor-in-chief Ashwad Ismail confirmed that one of its newscasters on Awani 745 is under investigation for the comments he made while covering the controversy surrounding the issue of RM50,000 compound issued to a couple of small traders in Kelantan.
"We are always of the stand that the country's police institution tasked to uphold the people's welfare and harmony must always be respected and protected at all times. As a news and current affairs channel, Astro Awani remains committed to strengthening the existing cooperation between the public and the PDRM through ethical, balanced, and quality coverage," Ashwad said in the statement.
According to Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani, the remarks were not only slanderous but caused animosity from the public towards law enforcers, especially the police
"This is because the police's actions are based on existing laws for containing the COVID-19 pandemic," Acryl was quoted as saying by Berita Harian on Friday evening, 30 April.
He believes that remarks such as those made by the Astro Awani news anchor could erode the harmony between the police force and the people, and suggested those who have any grievances with law enforcement agencies raise their complaints through correct channels.
"My suggestion is that if any party is not satisfied with any action taken by the enforcement agency, please forward any problems encountered using the correct channels," he said.
On 4 May, Acryl will assume the post of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), the nation's top cop post.
What exactly did the news anchor say during the coverage?
On Astro 745, the channel's prime time news, the anchor decried the RM50,000 compound as an "unthinkable" sum imposed on small traders who are struggling amidst the pandemic.
The Astro Awani anchor used a phrase in Bahasa Melayu, remarking, "Ketika otak yang diletaknya diatas, tapi ada yang bertindak seolah otak diletak di lutut".
"While the brain is supposedly placed at the top, some people act as if their brains are placed at their knees by imposing a fine of RM50,000 on small traders who were merely doing business in their own villages."