Biden in hot water over sedition law and Anwar tweets

PETALING JAYA - US Vice-President Joe Biden has landed himself in hot water over his tweets on the Sedition Act and Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said Malaysia did not need United States to teach it about the rule of law.

"US should first resolve its racial discrimination issue, which saw two African-Americans dying at the hands of the police recently, drawing nationwide protests.

"It is better for the US to take care of its own backyard rather than preaching to others," he said, stressing that Malaysia's sovereignty should be respected.

In his tweet, Biden posted that "Malaysian Government's use of the legal system and Sedition Act to stifle opposition raises rule of law concerns".

He followed this with a tweet that "Anwar Ibrahim's appeal gives Malaysia a vital chance to make things right and promote confidence in its democracy and judiciary".

Nazri questioned if Biden wanted Malaysia to breach the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judiciary.

"Stop meddling in our judiciary and stop telling us what to do. We will not hesitate to sever ties if they (US) continue to meddle in our internal affairs," he said.

Biden, Nazri said, should also not intimidate Malaysia over its decision to maintain the Sedition Act, adding that the law was used to maintain peace and harmony in a multi-racial country.

Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said it was unbecoming of a country like the United States to tell others to violate the principle on the separation of powers in a democracy.

"The US has been telling us to separate the powers of the executive, judiciary and legislative. So why is Biden implying that the Malaysian Government should tell the judges to let Anwar free?

"Why doesn't Biden tell that to the Malaysian judges?" he asked, adding that the US vice-president should know better that the charges against Anwar was levelled by an individual and not the government.

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin responded with his own tweet, saying that "closing Guantanamo gives the US a vital chance to make things right and promote confidence in its democracy and judiciary".

The Guantanamo Bay detention camp had gained global notoriety for the detention without trial and alleged abuse of detainees held for terrorism.

United States, Khairy said, should look in the mirror before pressuring others.

"We maintain our diplomatic ties, but we must be clear on the principles," he said.