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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why does IGP get to decide what’s seditious? Marina Mahathir asks after TMI 5 arrests

Marina called the sweep on the editors of news portal The Malaysian Insider (TMI) and its owner 'a sad day for media freedom'. — Picture by K.E. OoiMarina called the sweep on the editors of news portal The Malaysian Insider (TMI) and its owner 'a sad day for media freedom'. — Picture by K.E. OoiKUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — Prominent social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir questioned today national police chief Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar’s judgment in using the Sedition Act to arrest and detain four journalists from news portal The Malaysian Insider (TMI) and their publisher over the publication of a dubious news report.
The daughter of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad called the sweep on the editors of news portal The Malaysian Insider (TMI) and its owner, the group head of The Edge Media "a sad day for media freedom" and blasted the police for their "heavy-handedness" in dealing with the matter.
"Very sad day for media freedom, as limited as we already had. How come IGP gets to decide who is seditious and who is not?
"If the report is inaccurate, then there should be official statement on it. TMI would lose some credibility," Marina told Malay Mail Online when contacted.
The eldest child of Dr Mahathir also said that the arrest of the TMI editors will only serve to strengthen support for the news portal.
She further added that the manner in which the police are making the arrest — detaining them immediately despite having voluntarily turned up at the police station to have their statement recorded — would only deter the public from cooperating in the future.
"This heavy-handedness makes people sympathise with TMI, especially since it's the latest in a long line of arrests.
"If you arrest people for voluntarily coming forward to aid in investigations, what incentive is there ever to help the police?" she said.
Police have arrested four journalists from news portal TMI and their publisher for sedition in relation to a report citing an unnamed source as claiming that the Conference of Rulers had rejected proposed legal amendments that would allow hudud to be enforced.
This was later denied by the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal, who also lodged a police report over the article.
Police will hold the chief executive of TMI and the head of The Edge Media group that owns the news portal for the maximum 24 hours following their arrest this morning, their lawyer confirmed today.
Jahabar Sadiq and Ho Kay Tat will be kept at the Dang Wangi district police headquarters overnight and presented for remand the next day.
Jahabar and Ho were arrested this morning when they arrived at Dang Wangi to give their statements to the police, who yesterday arrested three editors from the news portal — managing editor Lionel Morais, Bahasa Malaysia editor Amin Shah Iskandar andfeatures  analysis editor Zulkifli Sulong — for their investigation.
The trio arrested earlier will be released at 7pm today after police failed to secure an order to remand them further.
The five are the latest to be arrested in a sedition dragnet that kickstarted last month. Prior to the arrest of the TMI five, 95 activists and opposition leaders have been detained and charged for sedition.
The arrests drew immediate condemnation from opposition and rights and media groups.
- MalayMail

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