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#freeAhmad

An email I sent to my friends yesterday:

A fortnight ago, when I was in Singapore, I met a prince. He is the heir of a royal household whose origin traced back to the mid-1700 and a nephew of a reigning European monarch.

We sat beside each other at a meeting, and I would not have guessed he is a royalty. He is intelligent yes but he is also very friendly and humble. He introduced himself to me by his first name and his occupation – he is a diplomat, no honorifics nor styles. During the course of our programme, he mingled with the other participants as friends and colleagues would, without pagentry and protocols. Until I read through the biodatas of participants supplied to us, I would not guess my new friend is a royalty.

In the end, I figured our concept of royalty is different than the Europeans’.

(A caveat though, I know a prince of a Malaysian ruling family whom I feel equally comfortable to be around with, no protocols and pretentiousness, and intelligent too).

My experience with royalty thus far, has been pleasant.

Not so with Ahmad Abdul Jalil.

Last Friday, my friend’s 27 year-old brother, Ahmad Abdul Jalil, was arrested by the Malaysian police for insulting a Sultan (Malaysia has 9 rulers styled Sultan, Raja or Yamtuan Besar) on Facebook. Today is the 5th day of his arrest. The police could not say exactly which action of his insulted the Sultan. He was denied communication with his lawyer since his arrest. He was brought from Kuala Lumpur where the offense was alleged to have taken place to another state, the state of the said Sultan. Yesterday, a Magistrate Court ordered the police to release Ahmad. They uncuffed him, but did not release him to his family. Instead, the police took him away and detained him further.

Malaysians are furious with such blatant disregard for the rule of law by the police. In fact, the whole ordeal may actually bring shame to the royalty concerned. It may also give Malaysian royalty a bad name.

We are calling for Ahmad Abdul Jalil to be released immediately. I have issued a press statement in this regard – see below. Others are doing the same, and even appealed to the public to write to the government and the police. Some will gather for a candlelight vigil at Dataran Merdeka (Merdeka Square), Kuala Lumpur tomorrow, 7 November, 8.30pm. 

What would you do?

Ahmad Abdul Jalil, a quantity surveyor, is a passionate young adult with bright future in front of him. He is not a politician. He is not a criminal. If he did something wrong, charge him in court. But even the court has ordered his release. The least you can do is to forward this message so that Ahmad Abdul Jalil receives justice.

In solidarity with Ahmad,

— Steven

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