A Malaysian opposition lawmaker was charged yesterday with sedition over a satirical video clip that sparked protests by Islamic groups, in a move she said was aimed at weakening an opposition alliance.
Teresa Kok, a senior member of the Democratic Action Party, pleaded not guilty to a sedition charge related to the 11-minute clip Onederful Malaysia.
In the Malay-language video, she interviewed three panellists on their predictions for the Lunar New Year that poked fun at a range of domestic issues.
Parts of the clip that were deemed seditious included jokes on Malaysia being a dangerous country due to kidnappings on Borneo Island, and the country's education system.
Kok said the charge against her was an attempt by the government to cripple opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's three-party alliance after its strong showing in elections last year.
Anwar was convicted on charges of sodomy and in March sentenced to five years in jail.
He has slammed the verdict as politically motivated and is appealing the conviction.
Another opposition lawmaker, Karpal Singh, was also found guilty of sedition in February for insulting a state sultan - respected figureheads in the Malay Muslim-majority country. He died last month in a car accident.
Kok criticised Prime Minister Najib Razak for failing to keep his promise made in 2012 to repeal the draconian Sedition Act. If convicted, she faces up to three years in prison.
"It also shows the extent of political darkness that has descended on this nation after the last general election."
Najib's ruling coalition won the polls in May last year, but lost the popular vote for the first time to Anwar's opposition alliance.
More than 300 police reports have been lodged against Kok over the video.
Muslim groups smeared chicken blood on a poster of Kok and other opposition leaders, and offered a 1,200 ringgit (HK$2,867) reward to anyone who can slap Kok for insulting the Malay leadership and Islam. About 60 per cent of Malaysians are Malay Muslims.
Defence lawyer Sankara Nair said: "There is satire going on in the country everywhere, so why haul up Teresa alone? It must be political motivation."
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse