The Inspector General Of Malaysia's Police Force Is Catching "Criminals" On Twitter

Twitter is not a safe space to criticise the government, the IGP is watching.

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IGP hits back at critics for slamming the use of Twitter to crack down on dissent

Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.

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The Inspector-General of Police has hit back against his detractors, who criticise his policing via Twitter. Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said that to accuse the police of using Twitter to crack down on dissent was most inappropriate. He added that to claim that the medium was an extension of the arms of archaic and draconian law was most uncalled for.

“To accuse the Malaysian Police of using twitter to crackdown dissent is most inappropriate and to charge that we use the medium as an extension of the arms of archaic and draconian law is most uncalled for.

“It is appalling that critics should lambaste the way the Malaysian Police keep the public informed of police actions through Twitter, with regards to matters that have raised public’s concerns. It is not legally wrong,” he stated in the written statement.

Critics, including opposition politicians and lawyers, accused Khalid of using his Twitter account to come down on dissidents by issuing warnings "on a whim" about what could or could not be published.

Khalid's use of Twitter to warn Putrajaya’s critics also attracted the attention of US daily The New York Times, which said Putrajaya had been accused of using draconian and archaic laws to sideline and intimidate its critics for decades.

In the statement, he went on to explain that it was not "legally wrong" for the police to highlight matters of public interest via Twitter but "when some quarters use the platform to influence or instigate third party's opinions or actions that adversely affect national security and interest", this according to Khalid is when the line is crossed.

Khalid called on the people to practise restraint and caution to control the rise of racial and religious sentiments, which could tear the country apart.

“Such is also true with seditious and intimidating comments, which could disrupt social harmony and create unrest amongst the people. Freedom of speech is the political right to communicate one’s opinions and ideas. However, it must come with common limitations, which are universally observed by governments all over the world,” he said.

Khalid said the irresponsible use of freedom of speech include slander, sedition, hate speech and causing public nuisance. “The police will continue to do what is right and best for the nation, without fear or favour,” he said.

11 Feb: Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar has been very active on Twitter lately, especially in publicly authorising PDRM to investigate tweets he deems as seditious remarks

The government for decades has been accused of using draconian and archaic laws to sideline and intimidate its critics. But the latest cases come with a modern twist: The country’s highest police officer, Khalid Abu Bakar, is using his Twitter account to issue warnings to government critics and to order his subordinates to track and investigate dissenting voices.

After the sodomy trial, Khalid Abu Bakar tweeted to PDRM, asking for a sedition investigation on Rafizi Ramli for insinuating that the judges were bribed, and on Nga Kor Ming for asking the rakyat to stand up against the draconian regime

Khalid's requests extend beyond the sodomy ruling. He also called for an investigation on a tweet alleging police corruption and another tweet reply to Najib saying that the MH370 was a conspiracy

Over the past week, controversial cartoonist Zunar was arrested for three days under the Sedition Act over a tweet criticising the judges in the Anwar verdict

Police have arrested cartoonist Zunar for sedition over a tweet criticising the judiciary following Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy verdict, hours after police chief Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar had warned that the police would act against him earlier today.

Human rights lawyer Eric Paulsen was also charged for sedition over a tweet that allegedly accused Jakim for promoting extremism

Paulsen, who is also Lawyers for Liberty executive director, was charged with publishing seditious words on his Twitter account at stating that, "Jakim is promoting extremism every Friday. Government needs to address that if serious about extremism in Malaysia".

Khalid's tweet happy move started in 31 August 2014 when he publicly ordered PDRM to investigate two tweets that ridiculed him and Barisan Nasional

According to Human Rights Watch, the only thing Khalid is achieving is further eroding freedom of expression in the country

Deputy director of Human Rights Watch Phil Robertson said Zunar’s arrest showed that freedom of expression in the country was eroding.

“The arrest of cartoonist Zunar on sedition charges would be laughable except the police inspector general and the Malaysian ‘twitter police’ apparently don’t have a sense of humour.

“They seem to be turning peaceful criticism into a criminal act that threatens the state. All these authorities are accomplishing is to further erode freedom of expression in Malaysia and inspire fear in those who wish to speak up for their rights,” he added.

When questioned, Khalid says he is sending Malaysians a very clear message that they will not tolerate any seditious statements that disrupt public order

Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar today explained that his public orders for police to probe Twitter users was to demonstrate the gravity of his force’s efforts to tackle seditious remarks.

Saying that the police intended to take firm action to maintain public peace, the Inspector-General of Police said the police will not tolerate “seditious” remarks geared at disrupting public order in the country.

“We will monitor postings and take action against those bent on disrupting public order through seditious statements.

“I tweeted them (screenshots of the alleged seditious postings) to show our seriousness and as a clear message that we will not tolerate it,” he was quoted saying yesterday to local paper New Straits Times.

Despite being seen as stifling freedom of speech, Khaild says they will carry out their duty to monitor, even social media postings, to ensure national harmony

In the same news report, Khalid reportedly said the police will act against alleged provocateurs despite the risk of being seen as stifling freedom of speech.

“We will carry out our duty and monitor, even social media postings, to ensure that things don’t get out of hand.

“I have issued warnings but they chose to ignore them. To ensure order prevails, I and the police force have to do what needs to be done,” he was quoted saying.

Pakatan Rakyat disagrees. "Is he more concerned about policing cyberspace as opposed to real crimes?" Rafizi Ramli asked about the IGP's priorities.

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He pointed out that members of the public are grappling with daily crimes as well as the influx of illegal immigrants, while the motive for the Altantuya Shaaribuu murder continues to be shrouded in mystery, besides there being numerous white-collar crimes that have not been addressed.

“So I am wondering what the IGP’s priorities are. Is he more concerned about policing cyberspace as opposed to real crimes?” he asked.

A professional police chief, he stressed, should not use public space to create a climate of fear among the people. “I get the feeling that he is trying to make examples so that the common man thinks twice. This is not good for the nation. “We have an IGP who takes it in his own hands to be a cyber prefect,” Rafizi added

As Malaysia struggles with rising extremism, this issue has caught the attention of international media including the Wall Street Journal

The latest sedition cases follow a series of other investigations under Malaysia’s far-reaching Sedition Act, which criminalizes speech that could bring the government into contempt or prompt disharmony among the country’s disparate ethnic groups. The government denies using the sedition laws to stifle dissent.

Analysing the situation, The New York Times says Khalid is creating a marriage of modern technology with archaic laws that will only serve the government

The blue ballpoint pen sketch shows a self-portrait caricature of a smiling Zunar behind bars at the Dang Wangi police station.

Image via Malaysiakini Facebook

The Internet has been seen by critics of the government as a liberating force in Malaysia. Unlike television and the print news media, social media and the web are largely free of government controls. But Mr. Khalid’s vows to aggressively police the Internet have curbed this new frontier of free speech and have expanded the reach of a paternalistic government.

One recent post by Mr. Khalid exemplified the tone of his messages. “Be careful what you say,” he wrote. “Don’t utter words that will cause the P.D.R.M. to take action. If you dare to talk, you dare to bear the consequences.”

Mr. Khalid’s online policing is creating a marriage of modern technology with archaic, repressive laws.

Phil Robertson, the Asia deputy director of Human Rights Watch, likens the IGP to a shark in open water, "inspiring fear wherever he comments."

Phil Robertson, the Asia deputy director of Human Rights Watch, said Mr. Khalid’s vow to police social media had made Malaysians think twice before posting anything.

“In Malaysia’s Twittersphere, the I.G.P. is like a shark in open water — inspiring fear whenever he comments,” said Mr. Robertson, using the initials for the inspector general of police.

SAYS has a developing list of all the Malaysians who were investigated for sedition this year:

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