Malaysiakini earlier reported that de facto law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has threatened to quit over the continued detention of DAP MP Teresa Kok and blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin. He is highly critical of the old-style politics of creating fear.
In the dialogue that was held on June 1, 2008 between Zaid and journalists, Datuk Zaid had asked the media this: Dare you take on issues that are unpopular with the media owners. On the detention of Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng, Ziad is perplexed as how she would constitute a threat to national security. His stand on the matter of the continued detention of Teresa Kok and RPK speaks volumes about his commitment on law reform.
A few weeks ago Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi stated that the media should write the truth and there should be no fear in writing the truth. The arrest of Ms Tan will lead many to believe the Prime Minister truly cannot be trusted on his words.
Detention without trial is not an issue that can ever be taken lightly. It takes away the liberty of a human being. Indeed there may be circumstances under which the use of the ISA may be justified, as when it is a matter of dire national security, like terrorism. But to invoke this Act against a journalist who is merely reporting what she had witnessed is without doubt a cynical act of intimidation that deserves absolute derision. What is more maddening is that the man who had made the incendiary remarks in the first place remains scot free!
The arrest of Ms Tan is a new low in the administration of justice in Malaysia and a severe blow to the quest for media freedom.
The quick release of Ms Tan shows that the government came to realize it had miscalculated badly and people will not accept what has been done to Ms Tan. Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar’s explanation that Ms Tan was arrested to “ensure her safety” is bereft of any logic and not for the first time.
There has been outrage from various quarters but not much from the mainstream media itself. They must decry this blatant act of intimidation on journalists. This is not acceptable. Enough is enough.
Sign petition for Media Freedom at http://benar.org .