KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 3): The government will uphold the right of citizens to speak out if the rule of law is broken, which will be regarded as free speech and not considered as sedition in any way, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. 

“Citizens can make reports on these matters or openly speak about them,” he said in his latest blog post.

Dr Mahathir said the rule of law applies to everyone, including the rulers, prime minister and ministers, civil servants and ordinary citizens.

“There is no provision which exempts anyone from the rule of law,” said Dr Mahathir, who uses the pen name “Che Det” on his blog.

For the rulers, Dr Mahathir said, “There is a special court but the laws are the same as the laws applicable to ordinary citizens. The rulers too must respect the laws.”

Dr Mahathir said “it is disturbing to see blatant breaches of the law being perpetrated in the mistaken belief that immunity has somehow been accorded.”

“Unfortunately certain breaches of the laws have been committed without action being taken by the law enforcement agencies. In other words, the rule of law has been ignored,” he added.

He said among the most important objectives of Pakatan Harapan  when it was struggling to overthrow the government led by former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak was the restoration of the rule of law.

“Najib had ignored the law when it suited him. In fact, the laws were abused in order to oppress the people. Instead of protecting the people, the laws exposed the people to unknown but real fears,” he added.

If the rule of law is not upheld, Dr Mahathir said the citizens will suffer from injustices while businesses could not be run properly.

“Property has been seized. Unusual and illegal actions have been perpetrated,” he added.

Public complaints against any act that goes against the rule of law, said Dr Mahathir, are legitimate and do not breach any law.

“They will not be considered as sedition in any way. They will be regarded as free speech,” he said, adding that “the citizens can make reports on these matters or openly speak about them.”

Dr Mahathir stressed that the basic law of the country is the Federal Constitution, which is a comprehensive body of laws that determines the legal structure of Malaysia encompassing the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the rulers of the states, the federal and state governments and the bodies empowered to rule and enforce.

“All other laws are derived from the constitution,” he said, noting that “no law which in any way negates the constitution may be promulgated.”

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on Jan 3, 2019.

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