KUALA LUMPUR: The eldest daughter of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said Monday she had been arrested for sedition after reading out in parliament parts of a speech by her father criticizing his recent jailing.
Nurul Izzah, 34, a member of parliament and popular public figure, confirmed her arrest by phone to AFP while in custody.
Nurul became the latest nabbed in a sedition crackdown by Malaysia’s government that has seen dozens investigated, charged, or convicted over the past year, including several top opposition politicians.
“I am extremely angry, and we all should be, because as parliament members we should be free to criticize the government of the day without reprisal,” said Nurul, who also has led recent street rallies against Anwar’s conviction.
Anwar was convicted on February 10 of sodomizing a former male aide in 2008 and sentenced to five years in jail.
Anwar, who denies the charge, calls it a “political conspiracy” by the coalition in power since 1957, designed to thwart steady opposition gains in recent elections.
Nurul last week read out in parliament portions of a statement by Anwar, now in prison, in which he questioned the independence of Malaysia’s judiciary.
A police official told AFP that Nurul was likely to be held at least overnight.
Authorities have warned that criticizing Anwar’s jailing could bring sedition charges, and a handful of critics have already been investigated or charged.
Government opponents say the sodomy case is part of a long-running campaign to remove Anwar, who was ousted from the ruling party in a late-1990s power struggle. He later helped inspire the fractious opposition into a formidable force.
His conviction has been criticized by international human rights groups, Australia and the United States, which said it raised questions over the rule of law.
Prime Minister Najib Razak promised in 2012 to scrap the British colonial-era Sedition Act amid growing pressure for reform.
But after a 2013 election setback, government critics have increasingly been targeted by the law. In November Najib said the law would be retained and even strengthened.