By Minderjeet Kaur | Free Malaysia Today

The legal fraternity has criticised a message from the deputy prime minister’s office labelling a Twitter account holder as an instigator for suggesting a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) be set up to look into the 1MDB controversy.

Lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad said the government was over-reacting and hoped the various authorities would not carry out investigations on the said individual simply because the DPM’s office was calling for it.

“Are we saying the government is fault-free and they cannot be questioned?

“There is a fine line (between) instigating someone to do something unlawful and highlighting certain issues that ought to be investigated in accordance with the rules of transparency,” he told FMT.

Amer was commenting on a tweet by the DPM’s office which referred to Twitter account holder Veritas Aletheia, who on Sept 4 tweeted: “Tun, 1MDB accts not audited as these not resolved: 1. Material items fr 2013 unverified; 2. DoJ evidence; 3. IPIC arbitration payment.”

Veritas also tweeted: “Summary: We need an immediate RCI on 1MDB Bc despite evidence & allegations of billions stolen, no audited accts.”

In another tweet, the same individual wrote: “DoJ & 6 countries have provided evidence that money was stolen from 1MDB. We need an RCI now to determine the losses & culprits.”

In a reaction to these tweets, the DPM’s office directed the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), police and Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Jailani Johari to take note of the matter.

The DPM’s tweet also said: “A provocateur is damaging the stability of the country.”

Amer however was of the opinion that there was nothing wrong in highlighting a matter if no proper auditing was carried out by regulatory bodies.

“What is wrong if someone were to ask that an issue be raised through proper channels?

“It is not like: ‘Let’s go and attack 1MDB’s office or ransack the office.’ Or demonstrate in front of the office.

“That is a slightly different scenario.”

Another lawyer, Eric Paulsen, said it was a serious abuse of power to call for an investigation into legitimate questions raised over 1MDB.

“I wonder if the DPM knows about this and whether he sanctioned such social media policing and collaboration with trolls?”

Paulsen added that the Communications and Multimedia Act was not meant to shut down discussions on social media, and was not to be misused against dissidents or those who raised tough questions on good governance and accountability issues like on 1MDB.

“Rather than wasting valuable police and MCMC resources targeting and quibbling over petty social media postings, they should be going after real criminals and real crimes.”