The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) calls for the immediate release of The Malaysian Insider (TMI) managing editor Lionel Morais, features editor Zulkifli sulong and Bahasa news editor Amin Shah Iskandar, who have been arrested under the Sedition Act and section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act.
The three editors were arrested when the police and MCMC officers raided TMI's offices reportedly in relation to a news article TMI had published on the Conference of Rulers' reaction to Kelantan's state enactment on hudud.
Reports had emerged that the Conference of Rulers had disputed the article and a police report had been lodged by the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal to that effect.
CIJ questions the high-handedness of the raid and arrests. Should the article have been found to be incorrect, it could have been rebutted and TMI requested to retract it or publish a correction.
Even if the police wanted to initiate investigations, they could have requested for the requisite information from TMI instead of raiding their office and arresting their editors. It is not a secret that TMI published the article in question, nor is TMI denying authorship of the article. There is also no need to detain the three editors overnight, nor is there a need to apply for their remand.
Today's raid and arrests is part of a worrying trend of a decline in standards of freedom of expression in Malaysia. It is embarrassing and appalling that the law is being utilised in this manner and this constitutes an assault on the rule of law. CIJ calls for the immediate release of the TMI's editors and a cessation of the authorities' arbitrary crackdown on the freedom of expression.
Sonia Randhawa and Jac Kee
Directors, Center for Independent Journalism