Sedition charges will turn Kedah’s Sanusi Md Nor into a ‘martyr’, says analyst

An academician has said that the use of the Sedition Act against Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor will turn the caretaker Kedah menteri besar into a “martyr”.

This comes after Sanusi, who is also Perikatan Nasional’s national election director was charged this morning at the Selayang Sessions Court, with two counts of sedition under the Sedition Act 1948 over a political speech delivered on July 11.

Universiti Sains Malaysia Centre for Policy Research and International Studies director, Associate Professor Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk said however, the move may backfire against the ruling government, ahead of the state elections.

“Many have condemned the charges against Sanusi. Whatever the political motivation, this will actually work against the government,” he said.

“This is because whatever the government is doing now is turning him (Sanusi) into a martyr.”

Azeem said the court case against Sanusi will be interpreted by Perikatan Nasional’s supporters as being politically motivated, ahead of the state elections on Aug 12.

“The competition for votes has become more intense … the state elections are also regarded as a referendum to see if the current government at the federal level, is popular or not,” said Azeem.

“The current administration is doing all it can to shore up its image in the Malay heartlands.”

The two charges levelled against Sanusi, to which he claimed trial to, was for allegedly uttering seditious remarks that could incite disloyalty towards the Malay Rulers.

Sanusi was reported to have passed a remark regarding the appointment of Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari as Selangor Menteri Besar during a ceramah by Perikatan Nasional in Selayang, Selangor, on July 11.

If convicted, he faces a maximum jail term of three years, or a RM5,000 fine.

Former Malaysian Bar president Datuk S. Ambiga said today that the use of the Sedition Act against political opponents (and in fact, against anyone) by this government is totally unacceptable.

“It’s so contrary to the Malaysia we fought for. The Sedition Act must be abolished!” she tweeted.

However, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said that while the Sedition Act is usually not used against the people, the issue involving Sanusi was “different”.

Anwar had said that the matter in question concerned the position and sovereignty of the Malay Rulers, “which we must uphold and preserve”.

Azeem said the government of today had, in the past, portrayed itself as a “defender of free speech”.

“That’s why the charges against Sanusi will not go down well.

“It will make Sanusi look like a hero. In fact, Sanusi will come out stronger, as the case is only set for the next mention on Oct 4, long after the state elections, and he will be campaigning as usual.

“However, perhaps, he (Sanusi) may want to tone down his rhetoric, just a little bit,” he added.