KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian police have arrested five editors from news site The Malaysian Insider and its parent title The Edge under the Sedition Act, over the publication of a report on Islamic criminal laws.
According to The Malaysian Insider, The Edge publisher Ho Kay Tat and the Malaysian Insider chief executive Jahabar Sadiq were arrested this morning when they entered the police station in Dang Wangi to provide their statements. Last night, three other editors from The Malaysian Insider, Lionel Morais, Amin Shah Iskandar and Zulkifli Sulong, were placed under arrest.
The reasons given for the arrest were violations of Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act and Section 4 of the Sedition Act. The portal reports that the five arrests we made over a report published on The Malaysian Insider on March 25.
While it has not been specifically referenced, it is likely that this is the article that has been called into question.
According to the article in question, an amendment which would have allowed the state of Kelantan to enforce Islamic Criminal Law, or 'Hudud', had been tabled before the rulers on March 11, but was rejected by the council. However, The Keeper of the Rulers' Seal lodged a police report on March 26 denying that the issue was discussed by the council.
Prior to his arrest, Jahabar was reported to have said that the arrests appear to go beyond the one article as The Edge and The Malaysian Insider have both been active in reporting on problems with government-owned strategic investment fund, 1MDB.
Malaysia's press is tightly controlled by its government and currently ranks 147 out of 180 on the Press Freedom Ranking index mantained by Reporters Without Borders.
A Facebook group named Gerakan Media Marah or Geramm (movement of angry media members) is holding a candle light vigil tonight to protest the detention of Ho and Jahabar.