Opposition lawmakers slam cops over journalists’ arrests

Opposition lawmakers slam cops over journalists’ arrests

KUALA LUMPUR - Opposition lawmakers hit out at the police over the arrest of media practitioners for sedition, pointing out at the "unnecessary" remand of the journalists.

PKR whip Datuk Johari Abdul said the arrests could be seen as stifling media freedom.

"We strongly condemn the arrests and urge all media practitioners to continue reporting the flaws of government, whether it is the Barisan Nasional government or Pakatan Rakyat," he told reporters in Parliament House on Wednesday.

Johari said if the government was unhappy with false or misleading news reports, they should sue the news organisation and not arrest the staff.

"Media criticism should be viewed positively. If the government isn't happy, then sit down with the editors to obtain an explanation or sue them," he added.

The Edge publisher Ho Kay Tat and The Malaysian Insider chief executive Jahabar Sadiq were detained on Tuesday and released on Wednesday with police bail.

On Monday, police detained TMI's managing editor Lionel Morais, Bahasa Malaysia features and analysis editor Zulkifli Sulong and Bahasa Malaysia news editor Amin Iskandar. They were released a day later after the magistrate denied a remand order for the trio.

Johari, DAP whip Anthony Loke Siew Fook, and PAS whip Datuk Mahfuz Omar wore yellow ribbons as a show of protest against the arrest of the journalists.

Loke said the police should return to fighting crime, instead of wasting time on arresting activists and journalists.

"The fact that the magistrate rejected the remand order shows that police should not have arrested them in the first place.

"If they want to obtain a statement, it can easily be done at the station in two to three hours without the need to arrest," he said.

Mahfuz urged the Home Ministry to step in and act more democratically towards the press, politicians, and activists.

"Arresting someone just to take a statement? We are just a phone call away, and are willing to co-operate with the police," he said.

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