PDRM Opens Another Can Of Worms With Nurul Izzah's Sedition Arrest

Dr Wan Azizah first saw her husband Anwar Ibrahim sent to jail, then daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar. Will, Nurul Nuha Anwar be next?

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17 March: News about the arrest of Nurul Izzah Anwar made international headlines yesterday with media like The Wall Street Journal saying that "Malaysian politics are moving down a dark path"

The Guardian called Nurul Izzah's arrest a move against the opposition.

Image via The Guardian

The Wall Street Journal says "Malaysian politics are moving down a dark path. A month after the country's highest court upheld the conviction of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on trumped-up charges of sodomy, police on Monday arrested Mr. Anwar’s daughter for violating the Sedition Act, a colonial-era law increasingly used to chill political debate.

The Permatang Pauh MP and PKR vice-president had voluntarily gone to the Dang Wangi police station to give her statement on the #KitaLawan rally when was arrested under the Sedition Act

Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, the eldest daughter of jailed Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, was arrested under the Sedition Act when she turned up at the Dang Wangi police station on Monday, as requested, to give a statement on the KitaLawan rally of March 7.

After Nurul Izzah was done with giving her statement on the Kita Lawan rally at 3pm, ASP Muniandy from Bukit Aman informed R Sivarasa, Nurul Izzah's lawyer, that he was under instructions to arrest her and then record her statement.

The arrest was over a speech she made in Parliament last week criticising the judiciary for upholding Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy conviction, a move she described as "selling their soul to the devil"

Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said yesterday that Nurul Izzah had been arrested under the Sedition Act to “assist police into the investigation of the KitaLawan rally and for making contemptuous remarks that those in the judiciary had sold their souls to the devil”.

Nurul Izzah's speech in Parliament last week also criticised the judiciary for bowing to "political masters" in the Federal Court's verdict to uphold Anwar's sodomy conviction and jail sentence.

Nurul Izzah also read out her father's speech to Parliament, Anwar had reportedly criticised his five-year imprisonment for sodomy and claimed that those in the judiciary had sold their souls to the devil.

Police detained her overnight at the Jinjang lockup to assist in the investigation. However, her lawyer R Sivarasa said there was no reason for her arrest.

In a press statement today, R Sivarasa said the claim of the police that Nurul Izzah would be released after her statement has been recorded implied that the police were unable to record her statement, although she came to police station voluntarily yesterday afternoon.

According to Sivarasa, the arrest documentation process was completed at 5pm, following which Muniandy said he received fresh instructions to remand Nurul Izzah and that the police would seek further remand the next morning.

"All of us who were present at the police station yesterday knew fully well that Nurul Izzah's statement could have easily have been recorded by yesterday afternoon. We were ready to commence it at 3pm yesterday.

Lawyers also say the arrest was unconstitutional as the Federal Constitution gives Member of Parliaments immunity for anything that is said in the Dewan Rakyat

Padang Serai MP N. Surendran, speaking up on behalf of Nurul as her lawyer, warned police that any investigation of her for reading out her father’s speech in Parliament was unconstitutional. “The police investigation is also in contempt of the Dewan Rakyat,” fumed Surendran.

Article 63(2) of the Federal Constitution confers immunity from any proceedings in court for anything said by an MP in the Dewan Rakyat. Subsequent to the May 13 1969 riots, the Constitution was amended to include a new Article 63(4). Article 63(4) provides an exception to the immunity under 63(2) for words uttered by MPs which fall under the Sedition Act 1948.

He urged the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, in his capacity as chairman of the committee of privileges, to initiate an immediate inquiry into “this blatant breach of parliamentary privilege”.

Outside the Jinjang police lockup, hundreds of Malaysians gathered in solidarity with Nurul Izzah and other activists who have been criminalised for speaking out against injustice

Hundreds of people are gathered outside the Jinjang police lockup in solidarity with Nurul Izzah Anwar, who was arrested earlier today for sedition.

Speeches were also heard from S Arutchelvan of PSM, Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli of PAS, R Sivarasa of PKR, as well as Himpunan Hijau's Wong Tack, among others.

"It is proven today that they are testing us. Every time they arrest someone, they [the authorities] think that ten people will run scared. So we have to show them that every time they arrest someone, ten people will rise up and fight," Arutchelvan said.

The International Commission of Jurists (IC) agrees, releasing a statement saying that the Sedition Act is grossly overboard and inconsistent with the basic rule of law

The International Commission of Jurists (IC), comprising ‎60 judges and lawyers from all regions of the world‎, said the Sedition Act's vague and broad provisions were incompatible with international human rights standards.

"The Malaysian authorities must stop the continued use of the offence of sedition to arbitrarily detain and stifle freedom of expression," ICJ’s Asia-Pacific director Sam Zarifi said in a statement last night.

The commission said the Sedition Act "contemplates restrictions on the exercise of freedom of expression that are grossly overbroad and inconsistent with basic rule of law and human rights principles".

"The ICJ also calls on the government of Malaysia to immediately release Nurul Izzah and reiterates its call for the repeal of the Sedition Act."

Each sedition arrest is another step towards destructing the rights-respecting democracy in Malaysia, says Human Rights Watch

Nurul Izzah Anwar was with her kids before going into Jinjang Lockup.

Image via Media Rakyat

Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said the PKR vice-president's arrest showed that Putrajaya "knows no bounds in its efforts to stifle free speech and criminalise dialogue that would be a normal part of political discourse in much of the rest of the world".

He criticised Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his government for shamefully using the Sedition Act like "an axe to hack down opposition politicians, community activists, and any others, who dare speak their minds".

"The Prime Minister needs to recognise that every sedition arrest of an opposition political leader is another step towards the destruction of rights-respecting democracy in Malaysia, and bring this campaign of abuse to an end," Robertson said in a statement.

DAP asks why was the police able to swiftly take Nurul Izzah into custody when there was barely any action on Ismail Sabri for calling a boycott against Chinese traders

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng also condemned her arrest, calling it an abuse of power by the police and demanded that she be freed immediately.

The Bagan MP and Penang chief minister said Ismail was not remanded overnight and the police even said Ismail was a busy man and had no time to be investigated. "But now, when the Dewan Rakyat is in session, the police have taken Nurul Izzah, an MP elected by the people, into custody under the Sedition Act for a speech she made in the august House.

As the controversy surrounding her arrest grows, police released Nurul Izzah on bail. They had apparently changed their mind from the intended four-day remand.

Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar has been released on police bail, after getting her statement recorded in connection with an allegedly seditious remark she uttered in Parliament.

She was released from the Dang Wangi police station at 12.15pm on Tuesday without further remand. "We are pleased to inform that the police have not decided to pursue a four-day remand as initially intended," Nurul Izzah's lawyer, R. Sivarasa, told reporters outside the station Tuesday.

Nurul Izzah is free to go home, but the sedition investigation is not over. She is required to report at the police station on 16 April 2014 again.

R. Sivarasa said the PKR vice president was required to appear at the police station again on Apr 16. "The bail bond is valid for one month, so she has to return to the Dang Wangi police station on Apr 16. "However, it does not mean she will be charged then," he added.

When asked about her arrest, Nurul Izzah says this move would affect the rights of other Members of Parliament and signifies that the country's democracy has been taken hostage by the authorities

Nurul Izzah shouted 'Reformasi' after being released for the police station today.

Image via Nurul Izzah Anwar

"It's such an onslaught and an affront to my rights, which will also affect the rights of other Members of Parliament, the greater issue of freedom of expression, which means highlighting of the key fundamental issues of the rakyat are put at stake.

"We're talking about an affront that has taken the democracy of Malaysia hostage," the PKR vice-president said.

"I think its quite clear that my arrest is a blatant abuse of power by none other than the IGP and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

"The prime minister is responsible for allowing transgressions against Parliament," Nurul Izzah told reporters after her release.

Back at home, Dr Wan Azizah is distraught as first her husband, and now her daughter have been hauled to jail. Despite her family being forced apart, she vows to never surrender.

On Twitter, Dr Wan Azizah Ismail wrote "After papa was izzah's turn..may Allah protect our family.."

"After you drag my husband to jail, now you criminalise my daughter...they sleep in dirty jails..."

This gentle mother of five has much more hardship to endure. Her second daughter, Nurul Nuha Anwar who has been leading the campaign for Anwar's freedom is next on the IGP's list.

Sisters Nurul Nuha and Nurul Izzah.

Image via Malaysiakini

She was also informed that her sister Nurul Nuha Anwar would be questioned next.

"Nurul Nuha will be questioned next and no one can escape this abuse by the IGP. He should be focusing on getting hardcore criminals, protecting Malaysia and getting Sirul, a convicted murderer, to atone for his sins," Nurul Izzah said.

Nurul Nuha has been at the forefront of the campaign against Anwar's jailing and has been a regular face at the Kita Lawan rally series.

Worries aside, Wan Azizah is proud of her daughters for continuing their father's fight for 'reformasi'

Former Major Zaidi Ahmad, who was similarly prosecuted over speaking out about the failure of the indelible ink, understands what Nurul Izzah is going through

"Nurul Izzah made a speech in Parliament. Parliamentarians have immunity when speaking in the House except when they say something seditious touching on citizenship, the position of the Malay Rulers, the national language or special position of Malays and the Orang Asal.

"She did not touch on those matters, so what she did wasn't wrong. It is like my case," he said at the forum "Kes Mejar Zaidi: Padah kerana benar, bebas kerana salah" in Butterworth last night.

For a list of Malaysians caught in the sedition dragnet, see here: