KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the fact that his own party members were free to openly question the government's policies and actions was a testimony that his administration has not abandoned its promised reform agenda.
This came after CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour questioned him on recent criticism leveled by fellow PKR member and Pasir Gudang Member of Parliament, Hassan Abdul Karim, who claimed that Anwar had ditched his decades-long fight against corruption.
"Look at it positively, a member of my party expressing criticism against me, it's a very democratic process.
"Now his criticism on the issue...what do you expect me to do? Do I then instruct the Attorney General to change his decision?” he replied.
The interview with Amanpour in New York was broadcast on CNN at 1am local time on Saturday (Sept 23).
Earlier, Anwar who arrived in New York on Thursday, delivered his maiden address as prime minister at the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Weighing in on the same subject of reforms, Amanpour went on to question the arrest of Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, who was later charged with making seditious remarks against the Sultan of Selangor.
To this, Anwar said laws must be respected, particularly when it involves the Rulers.
"The system of the royalty has its paraphernalia... I think the need to protect the institution is what the people have decided from the independence, that is the system we inherited.
"When a person is deemed to be abusive of the Ruler and the charge is preferred by the Attorney General... I mean there is the law, (and) until we are able to amend the law, the law persists.
Anwar said although he has been abused on a daily basis, none has been charged (with sedition).
"But if you touch on the Rulers, the Sultans, we have the law.
"I can’t be criticised for the (actions of the) prosecution, that’s purely their decision, particularly when you touch on the Ruler. If the issue is (about) the criticism against the prime minister and the prime minister took action, then it’s valid, your criticism is valid, otherwise, we have to deal with it,” he said.
Anwar said so far no one has been charged for criticising the Prime Minister or the government.
On the government’s ban on merchandise related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and + (plus) (LGBTQ+) such as Swatch watches, which saw a batch of them being seized by Home Ministry enforcement officers four months ago, Anwar said the consensus adopted by the masses must be respected.
"Well, I wouldn't defend that action. But the law...the Muslims, non-Muslims alike, Christians or Hindus or Buddhists, there is a consensus in the country (that) they do not accept this (LGBTQ)... (an) open public display of this.
"But do we then go and harass them? That’s a different subject, I do not approve of any of them harassing,” he added. - Bernama