Lest We Forget

Lese Majeste seems a trendy word nowadays. The term is famous in the Kingdom of Thailand, but it is not so here. There is no specific clause or proviso for lese majeste unless you wage war against the Yang DiPertuan Agong or the ruler of the respective states. So, when a couple in Penang were caught in May of 2009 for spreading an obscene comment on the Sultan of Perak on a website, they were charged instead with the production, distribution, circulation etc of obscene materials under Section 292(a) of the Penal Code of Malaysia. This carries a jail sentence of up to three years or a fine or both.

They were alternately charged with posting the obscene remark on the Internet with an intention to hurt other people’s feelings, an offence, under Section 233 (3) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (Act 588), which carries a jail sentence of up to five years or a fine of up to RM50,000.

So, when blogger Aduka Taruna, a 28-year old graphics designer from Negeri Sembilan who works in the state of Kelantan, with a certain political inclination towards the latter state, was arrested for insulting the person of the late Sultan of Johor, we wonder under what law will he be charged.

Aduka Taruna, whose real name is either Khairul Nizam or Khairil Nizam, went overboard with the way he wrote about the demise of the late Sultan of Johor. This was what he had written:

Dah Mampos Buat Cara Mampos La

Oleh: Aduka Taruna

Dah mampos buat cara mampos la. Boleh plak simpan mayat nak tunggu Datuk Bendehara balik dari shopping. Boleh meeting isytihar sedang terlentang. Pada hal dah mampos pagi tadi. Pergi mampos sama lu. Bodoh punya kerajaan spesis stupid.

Aduka Taruna - the stupid boy

Translated, it carries the following meaning:

If you’re dead, act like you’re dead. You can keep the body and wait for the minister to come back from shopping. You can have a meeting to proclaim that he is just lying down. Whereas he was already dead this morning. Go to hell. Stupid government, stupid species.

The term mampos (misspelt) is akin to die and go to hell. That is how I understand the word. It is normally used in a derogatory manner to someone you dislike.

Because of this, people from all over Malaysia and not just Johor, lambasted Aduka Taruna for his disrespect of the Johor royal family in general, and the late Sultan specifically. I personally think he should be charged under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act for uttering seditious words, and Section 4(1)(c) of the same act for distributing seditious material. The term seditious tendency also encompasses bringing into hatred or contempt or to excite dissatisfaction against any Ruler or against any Government (Section 3(1)(a) of the Sedition Act) and raising discontent or disaffection amongst the subjects of the Yang DiPertuan Agong or of the Ruler of any State or amongst inhabitants of Malaysia or of any State (Section 3(1)(d) of the Sedition Act).

He should also be charged under Section 233 of the Multimedia Act.

What I don’t understand is when the Minister for Information, Communications, and Culture uttered nonsense yet again yesterday. I quote:

“I believe the blogger’s case should be considered. For any party who has regretted and is sorry for his actions and has retracted what he has written in his blog, we (the Government) should not take any further action.”

So, I go and scream profanities at the Yang DiPertuan Agong now and apologise a minute later, I get away with it? That would be such a good precedence to set. Everyone will now only have to apologise and get exonerated and pardoned.

Having said that, more than a decade ago, a certain mainstream newspaper used to lambaste the late Sultan, carrying articles that questioned the latter’s authority and conduct. And almost two years ago, certain people aligned with a former Menteri Besar carried a banner in front of the state’s royal palace that displayed the word: NATANG which is the way people in the state say the word BINATANG (Animal). It was directed to the King himself because the King did not re-appoint the Menteri Besar. I would love to see these people charged with printing seditious remarks against a Ruler too!