No directive over Malaysian Insider arrests: Home Minister Zahid

KUALA LUMPUR - There was no political interference or directive in the arrest of the five The Malaysian Insider executives, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said he has full confidence in the police taking action from an operational standpoint.

“There are no elements of political directives as I have empowered all department directors under the ministry, including the IGP, to act without interference,” he said at a press conference after launching the Humanitarian Care Malaysia organisation here yesterday. He was commenting on criticisms from the international media over the arrests.

He said he was confident that the police acted within the confines of the law and their jurisdiction.

“The international media should respect the country’s landscape.

“They should know that articles based on facts and analysis are accepted in Malaysia.

“If an article is based on wrong facts, and even questions the credibility of one of the most important institutions in Malaysia, then a police report will be made,” he said.

Dr Ahmad Zahid clarified that the five men who were arrested recently were not imprisoned, but were merely questioned on the “incorrect facts” they put out.

“Every editor and journalist should be responsible for every news item that they produce. Although news portals might not be subjected to publishing laws, every journalist should uphold journalism ethics so that their organisation’s credibility is not questioned,” he said.

In another development, members of the Malay rights group Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM) gathered near The Edge Media Group’s office in Petaling Jaya and called for the police to arrest the media group’s executive chairman Datuk Tong Kooi Ong.

The Edge Media Group runs the The Malaysian Insider portal, The Edge business weekly and is the partial owner of the BFM radio station.

JMM secretary-general Hamdan Mohd Salleh called for a boycott of the media group’s products while JMM Federal Territory director Faizan Mohd Noor said they would lodge a police report against Tong at 2.30pm today.

About half an hour after the JMM protesters left, another group turned up near the Edge Media Group’s office to express their solidarity with The Malaysian Insider.

“We will back you up. In no way should they try to silence you,” said event organiser Ho Yock Lin.