Malaysia police release two senior media executives arrested for sedition

Mr Jahabar Sadiq, chief executive of The Malaysian Insider (TMI) news portal, seen in this picture shortly after he was released on police bail on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. He was arrested for sedition on March 31 along with Mr Ho Kay Tat, publisher
Mr Jahabar Sadiq, chief executive of The Malaysian Insider (TMI) news portal, seen in this picture shortly after he was released on police bail on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. He was arrested for sedition on March 31 along with Mr Ho Kay Tat, publisher of business daily The Edge. -- PHOTO: AMY CHEW 

Two senior media executives in Malaysia who were arrested for sedition over a news report were released on bail on Wednesday.

Mr Jahabar Sadiq, chief executive of The Malaysian Insider (TMI) news portal, and Mr Ho Kay Tat, publisher of business daily The Edge, were arrested on Tuesday over a report on the TMI website which alleged that the Council of Rulers had rejected a proposal to amend a federal law to allow Kelantan to implement hudud.

Mr Jahabar told The Straits Times: "They took all our statements very professionally. I thank all the police officers for being very kind to us. I still don't know why they are investigating us under the Sedition Act. But I am sure we will find out one day."

"I feel stinky, I need a shower, I need lunch,'' he said. "I am on the wrong side of the camera and microphone. I like to go back to being a journalist...thank you very much"  

Mr Ho said he was well-treated by the police. "I have to thank the police and also MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission)," he told reporters.

Lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan said the police made the right decision not to apply for remand.

"I don't think they should have been arrested. I don't think they should have been handcuffed,'' she told reporters. "I think the actions of the police are wrong."

Three others were arrested on Monday over the article but freed on Tuesday night. They are TMI's managing editor Lionel Morais, Bahasa news editor Amin Shah Iskandar, and features editor Zulkifli Sulong.

The arrests drew heavy flak from politicians, civil societies and press groups. The Centre for Independent Journalism called the arrests excessive and "part of a worrying trend of a decline in standards of freedom of expression in Malaysia".

Democratic Action Party (DAP) MP Tony Pua said on Wednesday that the arrests in the past months were an attempt to silent any form of dissent or criticism against the government. He said such moves "will only galvanise the opposition supporters and the critics to push the boundaries even further". 

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