KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s federal Islamic authority has warned Muslims in the country to stop maligning and insulting Malaysia and its leaders.
In its sermon commemorating Warriors’ Day on Friday (Jul 31), the Malaysian Islamic Development Department said those who continue to do so could be seen as victims of foreign powers who are trying to tarnish Malaysia’s dignity and prestige.
At the historic Independence Square in downtown Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s government marked Warriors’ Day by re-enacting scenes from the 40s. An annual event, it marks how forefathers of Malaya sacrificed their lives to save the country from communist insurgents and other foreign forces.
At Friday prayers, mosques played sermons reminding the predominantly Muslim community that those who slander the leadership do not love the country. The message was clear; the people must unite and reject forces that are trying to sow hatred among Malaysians in a bid to bring down the government.
Clare Brown, founder of whistleblower website Sarawak Report was labelled an enemy of the state. A British national and sister-in-law of a former prime minister, Brown is responsible for a series of exposés on troubled state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which has chalked up debt of more than US$11 billion in debt.
Allegations were also made about nearly US$700 million being funnelled into Prime Minister Najib Razak’s private bank accounts.
The police are investigating Brown under Section 124 of the Penal code for being detrimental to parliamentary democracy – a serious crime that is punishable for up to 20 years’ jail if she is found guilty.
“Sarawak Report has all the bad intentions,” said Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. “It is creating negative perception against Prime Minister Najib.”
The government has already suspended two local newspapers – The Edge Financial Daily and The Edge Weekly.
Several opposition leaders and rights activists are being probed and put on travel restrictions, while foreign media has been reprimanded for asking questions relating to the 1MDB scandal.
“Are you carrying out the voice of another country in asking questions?” said the Ahmad Zahid. “Please respect the investigation procedure, let the finding reveals the truth.”
As the scandal escalates, Prime Minister Najib and his new cabinet have their work cut out to dispel rising negative public perceptions and sooth mounting dissatisfaction among the grassroots already saddled with a rising cost of living.