KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysian police Monday raided the office of a popular Internet newspaper and took away all its computers in a probe into complaints that it had published a seditious letter, editor Steven Gan said.
Gan denounced the police move and said it appeared to be an attempt to shut down the operations of Malaysiakini, which claims a daily readership of about 100,000.
“They are taking away all 19 computers used by the journalists and our staffers, our operations will be affected. This is an attempt to close down Malaysiakini,” he told AFP.
The raid came five days after the youth wing of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) complained to police that Malaysiakini had published a “seditious” letter on January 9.
The group alleged that the letter, entitled “Similarities between ‘new Americans’ and bumiputera (indigenous people)” contained false accusations and questioned special rights for Malays, thus possibly instilling hatred for the government.
The letter was also malicious for likening UMNO Youth to the white-supremacist Ku Klux Klan in America “which was ready to kill other races,” it added.
Gan said the online daily’s policy was to encourage free and open discussion on controversial issues.
“We believe that the letter did not carry any seditious remarks that could incite racial violence but was based on a factual comparative study.”
Malays, who make up some 60 per cent of Malaysia’s population, receive special economic benefits over the Chinese and Indian minorities under a government affirmative action programme.
Gan said police had asked him to reveal the name of the letter writer but he refused and they then took all the computers to facilitate an investigation which could take weeks or months.
Malaysiakini would have to post a notice to inform readers of the interruption to its operations, he said, adding that he had not decided on the next move.
This was the third police report lodged against Malaysiakini since it was launched three years ago.