Mahathir questions reasons for arrest of journalists

KUALA LUMPUR - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday questioned the rationale behind the recent arrests of journalists, saying it would only turn Malaysia into a police state.

In a video uploaded on the blog Apanama, the former prime minister said there was no need for the police to detain editors and top executives of The Edge Media Group, which owns The Malaysian Insider (TMI).

Apanama is a blog owned by former New Straits Times political editor Firdaus Abdullah.

Four TMI editors and their publisher were arrested under the Sedition Act and the Communications and Multimedia Act about two weeks ago. They were all released a few days later.

Police wanted the five men to assist in investigations over an article claiming that the Conference of Rulers had rejected proposed legal amendments that would allow the enforcement of hudud, or Islamic criminal law, in Kelantan.

"The reporters from The Edge were arrested for supposedly seditious (reports)... I don't think it is the right way to use power," Dr Mahathir said in the video.

"He will say it is not him, it's the police... but we don't want to have a police state where the police come to arrest people," he added, in an apparent reference to Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The incomplete clip was an excerpt from a recorded interview the former prime minister had given last Saturday to a group of pro-Mahathir bloggers that was uploaded on Din Turtle's blog.

In that interview, Dr Mahathir accused Datuk Seri Najib of failing to offer substantial answers and breaking a promise to build a so-called "crooked bridge" to Singapore. He also claimed that Umno, the ruling party, "is about money" and its leaders supported Mr Najib only because "they get contracts".

Dr Mahathir had previously called on the police to reopen the 2006 murder case of Mongolian interpreter Altantuya Shaariibuu, and said people wanted to know who had ordered two police commandos to kill her. The two men have been convicted of the murder.

Ms Shaariibuu is believed to have been killed to silence her over alleged kickbacks involving high-level Malaysian officials in the purchase of two French submarines.

Yesterday, former inspector- general of police Musa Hassan, in a Twitter post, said the police must answer Dr Mahathir's questions and reopen the nine-year- old case.

He also said Dr Mahathir should not be blamed for asking questions, nor should he be hauled up under the Sedition Act as demanded by certain quarters.

"Right now, Dr Mahathir did not commit any offence. (You) want (police) to investigate him for what?"

This article was first published on Apr 15, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.