Lawyers: Zahid obstructing cops with ‘no probe’ remark

The lawyers said that Ahmad Zahid’s remarks showed the minister was clearly unaware that any threat to cause bodily harm on another person is considered a crime under the law. — file picture

By Melissa Chi, The Malay Mail

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi interfered with police matters when he said it was unnecessary to probe the slap threat against DAP MP Teresa Kok, several law experts have said.

Lawyers Andrew Khoo and Syahredzan Johan said the home minister cannot issue such remarks, as the police could misconstrue it as a direct order to pull the plug on any plans to investigate the case.

This would be inappropriate, they said, as many police reports have already been lodged against Kok’s detractors.

“For him to say what he said could be seen as tantamount to interfering with an ongoing police investigation and that would constitute an abuse of power, and abuse of power of that sort can be tantamount to a corrupt practice,” Khoo told The Malay Mail Online when contacted.

Even worse, the lawyers said that Ahmad Zahid’s remarks showed the minister was clearly unaware that any threat to cause bodily harm on another person is considered a crime under the law.

Khoo, a human rights lawyer, said it would now depend on the police to either act on the police reports and investigate accordingly, or take the minister’s comments as a directive to drop investigations.

He pointed to section 503 of the Penal Code, which he said states that it is a crime to commit criminal intimidation by threatening another individual with injury.

“He should not have said what he did, because it could be interpreted to provide cover and protection of extremist organisations who would take comfort in this and continue to stir racial hatred and encourage action of this nature,” Khoo said, referring to Zahid.

He added that Zahid’s action also goes against the prime minister’s call for reconciliation.

The lawyer also drew similarities to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s case in 1998 when the former deputy prime minister was charged with corruption for purportedly interfering with police investigations on allegations of sexual misconduct made against him.

“If the minister has any integrity, he should resign because this is not a comment that is appropriate,” Khoo said, referring to Zahid.

“Even if he is not prepared to resign, he should publicly apologise and not say anything more on this matter and let the police investigate,” he said.

The Council of Islamic NGOs, a coalition of six Muslim groups, offered cash rewards of up to RM1,200 last Thursday to anyone who could slap Kok, and capture the assault in photographs.

They were protesting against the Seputeh MP’s 11-minute Chinese New Year video lampooning current affairs in Malaysia.

Kok has since rejected claims that the satirical video demeans Islam or ethnic Malays, complaining instead of persistent harassment through sinister text messages and calls.

Zahid, in dismissing calls to probe the slap threat, said the only investigation taking place right now was on the complaints made against Kok’s video, and nothing else.

Syahredzan said the minister’s remarks should not be taken as a directive to the police, because the police should be able act independently without interference from the executives.

“Regardless of what he said, the police should still investigate the protest for any criminal offence,” he said.

The lawyer suggested that Zahid stop commenting on the case and leave it up to the police to investigate.

“As the home miinister, he should be more careful in his statements especially when it comes to these kind of issues.

“You don’t want to be seen as condoning these acts because it is a criminal offence,” Syahredzan said, stressing that the minister’s comments carried some weight.