The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) call for the immediate release of The Malaysian Insider (TMI) chief executive Jahabar Sadiq and The Edge publisher Ho Kay Tat, in addition to the three other Malaysian Insider editors that were detained on 30 Mar 2015.
CIJ and SEAPA view these arrests under the Sedition Act and Communications and Multimedia Act as an assault on media freedom and an act of intimidation in using police powers of arrests and detention against the four editors and Ho. As stated in CIJ’s media statement dated 30 Mar 2015, if the police intended to investigate TMI for an article on the Conference of Rulers that has been disputed, police could have interviewed the people involved without a need to detain them, keep them overnight and apply for a remand order. If the article was found to be erroneous, it could have been retracted or corrected. If it had been found to be true, then the investigation would have no basis. The reaction of the police has been wholly disproportionate to the stated reason for the arrest of TMI’s editors and Ho.
In the wake of multiple arrests and detentions of those seen to be critical of the government, it is even more important for the media to continue to play its part as the fourth estate to hold the pillars of government accountable and to keep the public informed. In this regard, The Edge and The Malaysian Insider, for instance, have been publishing a series of articles on state investment vehicle 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and questioning whether it is able to service its debts, which reportedly amounts to RM42 billion. Given the possible effect on the Malaysian economy and Malaysians well-being in general, it is important that media outfits continue to be free to investigate and report on such stories to keep the public informed and not fear disproportionate action from the police and government authorities in the carrying out of their duties.
CIJ and SEAPA thus call on the government to respect the freedom of expression and for the police to release the Malaysian Insider editors and Ho, who have been unnecessarily detained.
Sonia Randhawa and Jac Kee
Centre for Independent Journalism
Southeast Asian Press Alliance
For further information, please contact Sonia Randhawa on Skype (username: SoniaRandhawa), Jac Kee on Twitter (@jhybe), Gayathry V on Twitter (@gayathry) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you require further information.