, KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 – The family of a 27-year-old man detained for allegedly posting insulting remarks on Facebook about the royal family of a southern Malaysian state called on Monday for his immediate release.
Ahmad Abdul Jalil, a quantity surveyor, was arrested in his office in Kuala Lumpur on Friday and was subsequently taken to the southern state of Johor by police where the sultan he was alleged to have disparaged resides.
Malaysia’s royals, whose roles are largely ceremonial, are widely revered especially among the Muslim Malay majority, and it is a crime to insult them.
Ahmad’s elder sister Asiah Abdul Jalil told AFP by telephone from the southern Johor state that Ahmad was produced in court on Monday where the magistrate ordered his release.
“But the police re-arrested Ahmad. They took him away,” she said.
“We demand his immediate release. After three days of being detained, we still do not know why my brother is being held.”
Asiah said the family was worried about Ahmad’s safety since his location was being kept secret.
“We do not know where he is being held and the police are not providing us with any information,” she added.
Asiah described her brother as a “calm and kind” person who follows the country’s political developments closely.
“On Friday when Ahmad was arrested, the police said it was to facilitate investigations into what he (Ahmad) had posted on Facebook about the Johor sultan,” she said.
Asiah said her brother was initially held under the controversial Sedition Act but now police were investigating the case under the Communications and Multimedia Act.
“This is an abuse of the law. After three days, they do not have a case against Ahmad. We are truly worried about his safety,” she said.
Asiah said Ahmad was expected to be produced in court on Tuesday.
Last July a blogger was detained for allegedly insulting the sultan of Johor in his postings.
Malaysia has nine sultans, who are the royal rulers and guardians of Islam in their respective states. Under a unique rotating monarchy, they each take turns to rule for five years as the nation’s king.