Malaysiakini has reported that Kelantan Police called Anwar Ibrahim in for questioning. The cops wanted his statements for an investigation into seditious remarks he allegedly made at the Pengkalan Pasir by-election campaign last year in late November, where he drew a crowd of 10,000.
Seditious utterance is a crime falling under Section 4 of the Sedition Act 1948. The maximum penalty is three years’ jail or RM 5000 fine or both. Other Malaysians who had suffered from this anti-sedition law were Lim Guan Eng of the Democratic Action Party, Marina Yusoff former Vice President of Parti Keadilan, and Zulkifli Sulong former editor-in-chief of Harakah.
Police refused to identify who had reported the alleged sedition or even any other details including the officer in charge of the case. ASP Fazlisyam Abd Majid from the Pasir Mas district police headquarters admitted that they were under instructions not to speak to the media. He referred reporters to the CPO Kelantan, who by some strange coincidence was away at a meeting when the press wanted more details from him.
Let's examine what’s going on.
One, Pengakalan Pasir’s election had been won by UMNO. Anwar’s speech didn’t do much to influence voters. So why is UMNO … eh … sorry I mean, the Police going after him?
Two, it’s known that Anwar Ibrahim has lost much of his political lustre, so why introduce this harassment when he's no longer the dangerous threat he had been when he was incarcerated?
Three, PKR vice-president Azmin Ali suspected that the report could be an attempt to discredit Anwar who has openly criticised the government and its policies. As mentioned, Anwar is no longer perceived as the influential 'reformist' he claimed to be after he was kicked out of UMNO and certainly before he was released from prison, therefore I don't hold much store by this supposition.
Besides, today PM Badawi appears to be more in control and assertive than ever before. Why would he worry about a tired political has-been like Anwar criticising his policies?
Four A, the allegations could have substance [sorry, I have to include this possibility as I wasn't there at Pengkalan Pasir to hear his oration].
Four B, I feel the Police chasing the alleged sedition would have come from the very top.
Five, Could it be that he needs to be shut up, not for his criticism of the government and its policies, but for very very nasty information that he could have threatened to tell-all or UMNO feels that he could tell-all, that would have inflicted serious political or even legal damage to UMNO top wigs?
The Police investigation could be a warning to him that if he doesn't observe the laws of omerta, he could end up behind bars for another 3 years, or more in Hotel Kamunting.
Perhaps some kind readers would supply the inside story on the machinations and strategy of UMNO , but please nothing too seditious ;-)