'Fly flag upside down' blogger under probe
KUALA LUMPUR: Police have begun investigations into a call by a blogger for Malaysians to fly the Jalur Gemilang upside down as a sign of "distress".
Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said a police report had been lodged recently, prompting police to begin investigations under the Sedition Act.
However, he declined to reveal the name of the complainant.
"Our men from the Federal Commercial Crimes Investigation Department will be calling in the blogger soon to record his statement," said Ismail.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said those who fly the flag upside down would be insulting the Jalur Gemilang and action would be taken against them.
Police have traced the call to one particular blogger who asked Malaysians to fly the national flag upside down.
The blog gave techniques on how the flag should be flown and even had a picture of the flag being flown upside down together with a state flag.
Earlier story from AP:
Upside-down flags on Malaysia blogs irk government
Malaysia's prime minister told police to investigate an online campaign to display the national flag upside down, triggering a debate Thursday over whether it was an appropriate way to express displeasure with the government or an insult to the nation.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, whose administration has an uneasy relationship with a critical cyberspace community, accused the bloggers of "simply creating trouble" and indulging in "uncouth behavior."
"I hope the police will look into this matter and take the necessary action," Abdullah said Wednesday. "This is not merely mischievous but also a malicious act."
A police official said no instructions for a crackdown have been received, and it was not clear whether Abdullah was only issuing a veiled threat. The official cannot be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Prominent blogger Kickdefella, whose real name is Syed Azidi Syed Abdul Aziz, stirred controversy when he urged other Internet writers to display the flag upside down to show their displeasure with the country's political and economic problems.
Bloggers largely supported Syed Azidi's right to freedom of expression, but remained split over whether posting images of an upside-down flag was a wise move.
Some said they are uncomfortable with what might be perceived as disrespect toward the flag. Only a handful of bloggers have so far taken up Syed Azidi's proposal since early this month.
Authorities have arrested several bloggers over the past two years for alleged sedition and other offenses, sparking complaints that the government wants to deter online dissent.
Syed Azidi refused to end his campaign, saying he had no intention of insulting the flag but wanted to highlight the plight of Malaysians hit by problems such as unemployment.
"If Abdullah is saddened from seeing the (flag) turned upside-down in cyberspace, I feel a thousand times sadder for being responsible" for having to start such a campaign, Syed Azidi wrote late Wednesday.
Blogger Michelle Yoon said Syed Azidi's effort "may not be the most conventional of ways, but in a way, this action has started to create awareness amongst us."
Many of Malaysia's most popular blogs offer strongly anti-government commentaries and present a substitute for the mainstream media, which are controlled by ruling political parties or closely linked to them.
However, government officials have often accused bloggers of spreading false information and inciting hatred toward authorities.