Curbing insults to Malay royalty

Curbing insults to Malay royalty

There seems to be a spike in the number of Malaysians in trouble for passing remarks about the country's monarchy.

They range from opposition politicians to social media users who allegedly criticised the Malay rulers. Over the last four years, many have been threatened with sedition charges.

In the most recent case, a woman allegedly insulted the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, or Paramount King, in her Facebook posting early last month - after the ruler called on Malaysians to accept the May 5 election results.

She and some of her friends on Facebook felt that the Agong, as a constitutional monarch, was too partisan in making such a speech to commemorate his birthday.

While such alleged insults do not erode the legitimacy of the monarchy as an institution, they do raise concerns about the level of respect that a minority of Malaysians have for the Agong and the Malay rulers.

Why did these cases arise and how can they be prevented? First, there could be a lack of understanding of the concept of constitutional monarchy and its role in the political process.

This is despite civic lessons on state institutions that are taught in school.

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