Malaysian Clampdown on Media Alarms IFJ

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) fears a growing clampdown against the media is under way in Malaysia, with two journalists arrested on September 12 under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Raja Petra Kamarudin, a blogger and editor of the political website Malaysia Today, is being held without charge under the ISA. He has run the popular alternative political website for two years, and has broken a string of controversial stories on the site.

His office was reportedly raided by police about 10 days ago, according to local media reports, and equipment and papers were confiscated. Access to the Malaysia Today site was reportedly blocked for a week on government orders.

Several hours after Petra’s arrest, Tan Hoon Cheng, a reporter with the Chinese language daily Sin Chew Daily, was arrested for allegedly citing a racially insensitive statement made by a politician in a news report, according to the National Union of Journalists Malaysia (NUJM), an IFJ affiliate. The NUJM confirmed she was released the following day.

The ISA allows for the indefinite detention without trial of any person deemed to be a serious threat to the “national interest”.

The NUJM said Tan’s arrest was “a high-handed action” that had “severely tarnished the Government’s promise to promote greater media freedom and reforms”.

It called on IFJ affiliates and defenders of press freedom to send a letter to Malaysian embassies and high commissions in their respective countries to protest the use of the ISA against journalists and media workers in Malaysia.
“The clampdown on independent media voices in Malaysia is clearly intended to intimidate the Malaysian media and prevent it reporting diverse political perspectives that displease power-holders,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

“The use of legal frameworks such as the ISA to detain journalists and media workers for the content of their reports is a bullying tactic to enforce media silence and compliance at a time of political volatility in Malaysia. These efforts to restrict independent reporting and the free flow of information must not be tolerated.”

The IFJ demands the immediate and unconditional release of Petra.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 600,000 in 122 countries worldwide