Four more malaysiakini editorial staff were questioned by the police today over the publication of a controversial letter as the news site’s supporters lodged two reports against the police over their unruly behaviour.
About 20 supporters arrived at Dang Wangi district police headquarters at 2pm and gathered near the main entrance. This was followed shortly by the four malaysiakini staff concerned led by Editor-in-Chief Steven Gan.
The crowd held posters which read ‘press freedom’ while passing vehicles honked in support.
District police chief Hadi Ho Abdullah and several police officers then approached the crowd and demanded to know why those not there for the police interview — including malaysiakini legal counsel Latheefa Koya — were present.
After Latheefa introduced herself to Hadi, the police chief shouted at her and insisted that she could not enter the police headquarters unless she could first point out her client.
“I don’t care… You told me you are a lawyer, who is your client, where is your client? Show me your client. Have you got the permit, this is an unlawful assembly,” he said.
Latheefa identified the four — malaysiakini news editor Nash Rahman, chief sub-editor Chuah Siew Eng, sub-editors R Anandakrishnan and Chow Chui Lin — and was allowed into the police station with them.
Hadi then ordered the rest to move to the other side of the road. Several of his officers who remained at the entrance, however, approached the crowd unexpectedly and without any warning, tore all the posters.
Angered by the “rudeness of the police”, media activist Fathi Aris Omar and a woman who wished to be known as Norhayati later enter the police station to lodge reports against them.
Fathi said the police had acted in a manner which tarnished their own image and could sour the relationship between the public and the police force.
Questioned for three hours
Meanwhile, the four malaysiakini staff were questioned separately starting 2.30pm. The questioning sessions took about three hours.
Today’s interrogation followed the four-hour police interview of Gan yesterday.
At the end of the questioning sessions today, the police returned six central processing units, which were among the 15 CPUs and four servers which they confiscated in a raid on Monday, to malaysiakini.
Hadi said the six had been examined by the police while the remaining computer hardware will be returned once the forensic analysis is completed.
The police raid earlier was in response to a report lodged against the news site by Umno Youth last Friday over a letter titled ‘Similarities between ‘new Americans’ and bumiputera’.
The Youth wing said the letter published on Jan 9 was seditious and could instill hatred towards the government among non-Malays because it allegedly questioned the bumiputera privilege.
International media groups and opposition politicians have condemned the raid, saying that it was an attempt to stifle press freedom in the country.