March 31, 2015
Editors and Executives of Malaysian Insider are arrested
The Police arrested the three editors from The Malaysian Insider on Monday evening, in connection with a March 25 article about a proposal to allow the strict enforcement of Islamic law, the publication said.
“We do not think that the arrests were necessary, as they can meet the police any time to have their statements taken,” said Ho Kay Tat, publisher at The Malaysian Insider’s parent company, Edge Media Group, according to the news site. “We call on the police to release them immediately.”
On Tuesday, Mr. Ho was arrested, along with Jahabar Sadiq, The Malaysian Insider’s chief executive, the publication said. On the same day, a court denied a police request to continue holding the three editors, Lionel Morais, Amin Shah Iskandar and Zulkifli Sulong. The three were expected to be released Tuesday evening, according to Syahredzan Johan, a lawyer for the company.
All five men were arrested on suspicion of violating Malaysia’s Sedition Act and Communications and Multimedia Act, Mr. Johan wrote on Twitter.
Malaysia’s government has recently pursued sedition charges against outspoken politicians, scholars and other figures, an effort that critics say is meant to intimidate the country’s opposition. In mid-March, Nurul Izzah Anwar, a member of Parliament and daughter of the imprisoned Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, was arrested and accused of sedition after questioning the independence of the country’s judiciary in a speech.
The investigation of The Malaysian Insider centers on a March 25 article that described a meeting of the Conference of Rulers, a body of Malaysian sultans, reporting that they had rejected an Islamist party’s proposal that would allow strict punishments under Shariah, or Islamic law. The conference said that it had never announced such a decision and pursued legal action against The Malaysian Insider, the publication said.
The Center for Independent Journalism, based in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, and the Southeast Asian Press Alliance, based in Bangkok, called the move against the publication “an assault on media freedom and an act of intimidation in using police powers of arrests and detention.”
If the March report was found to be untrue, it could be corrected without the need for police raids and criminal investigations, the groups argued.