KUALA LUMPUR – March 31, 2015: The National Press Club (NPC) has described as inappropriate over the arrests of seven journalists from the Edge Media Group.
Club president Mokhtar Hussain today expressed regret over the arrests of editors of news portal the Malaysian Insider and two senior executives over a report allegedly linking the Conference of Rulers with the proposed implementation of hudud in Kelantan.
“NPC feels the authorities should not come down hard on the journalists,” said Mokhtar, while hoping that they will be released soon.
He suggested that MI should be asked to apologise if it had erred in its report.
Among those arrested are MI’s managing editor Lionel Morais, Malay section editor Amin Shah Iskandar, features and analysis editor Zulkifli Sulong, its chief executive Jahabar Sadiq and publisher of the Edge Ho Kay Tat.
Lionel, Amin Shah and Zulkifli were arrested last night, the other two this morning, followed by two more before lunch.
According to their lawyer Syahredzan Johan they were arrested under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act and Section 4 of the Sedition Act.
Blog House Malaysia (BHM), which groups together local bloggers, also considers the arrests disproportionate to the misreporting.
“Surely better steps could have been taken to ensure that this incident doesn’t end in an arrest,” said its president Endie Shazlie Akbar.
Nevertheless, he agrees that all journalists should check about their sources to ensure the credibility of their information and to safeguard the integrity of the profession.
MI had on March 25 said in a reporting quoting an unnamed source as saying that the Conference of Rulers had rejected a proposal to amend a federal law that would pave the way for hudud to be enforced in Kelantan.
The Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal lodged a police report the following day to deny that the Conference of Rulers had discussed the matter, adding that it had never issued any statement on hudud in Kelantan.
Today magistrate Tuan Nazri Omran rejected an application by the police to remand Lionel, Amin Iskandar and Zulkifli.
The three were expected to be released by Dang Wangi police at 7 pm but Jahabar and Ho remain in detention and Syahredzan expects them to be in the lock-up at least for tonight.