Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sin Chew Journalist ISA-ed - Malaysiakini Update 2

Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng has been arrested today under the Internal Security Act at 8.30pm at her home in Bukit Mertajam, Penang.

tan hoon cheng 04 120908Tan (left), 33, is the second person after Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin, to be arrested under the tough security law which allows for detention without trial.

She was taken by the police to the Penang police headquarters, where a crowd of 100 supporters have gathered to express their concern.

Tan was the first journalist who reported that local Umno chieftain Ahmad Ismail had allegedly said that Chinese Malaysians are “squatters” in the country.

Deputy inspector-general of police Ismail Omar has confirmed her arrest under ISA.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng's political secretary Ng Wei Aik was at the police headquarters to obtain more information on Tan's arrest.

"Penang police chief Ayub Yaakob has just confirmed the arrest of the journalist under section 73(1) of ISA to the chief minister," he told reporters gathered at the Penang police headquarters at about 10.45pm.

Under section 73(1), the police can detain Tan for a maximum of 60 days for investigations. Based on the outcome of the probe, she can be detained for two years without trial, and the two-year term can be renewed indefinitely.

Gerakan secretary-general Chia Kwang Chye, who was among those who visited the state police headquarters, slammed Tan's arrest and called on the police to complete their investigation as soon as possible so that she could be released.

Tan was arrested by a team from federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur.

Government ticked off for double standards

Meanwhile in an immediate reaction, MCA Youth legal bureau Gan Ping Sieu also condemned the use of ISA against Tan.

internal security act section 73 subsection 1 isa 120908"The journalist concerned should be called for questioning and not be arrested," he said.

He criticised the government for its double standards, adding that the arrest was a setback for democracy.

"Prime Minister Abdullah has shown his incompetence in handling the ‘squatters' issue in the past two weeks and allow the tensed situation to escalate.

"He has lost the confidence of the people. For the sake of national interest, he should step down," added Gan.

He added that the MCA Youth legal bureau was prepared to set up a team of lawyers to provide legal assistance to Tan.

Tan's report on Ahmad late last month had sparked a nationwide outcry, resulting in Ahmad being suspended by Umno for three years after an emergency meeting on Wednesday.

Three days ago, Sin Chew came out strongly to defend Tan, who was accused by Ahmad for misreporting his comments.

Tan, who holds a mass communications degree from Universiti Sains Malaysia, has been a journalist for nine years.

She has been with Sin Chew for four years. Before joining Sin Chew, she was a journalist in Kwong Wah daily. 

One last call to her office 

Sin Chew reported later tonight that Tan had contacted the daily's legal consultant before she was arrested, telling the lawyer that the police were outside her house and asked her to follow them to the police station for questioning.

"She could not be contacted after that phone call as no calls could be made to her.

"As we could not contact Tan on her phone, our colleagues in Penang have been going all over Penang, trying to locate her.

"About an hour later, it was confirmed that she was remanded at Bukit Mertajam police station," reported the daily.

According to Bernama, Tan was seen coming out of the Seberang Perai Tengah IPD at 11.10pm.

She was accompanied by two police officers and was taken into a car to an unknown destination.

Tan waved to the crowd outside the police station as the car she was in left along with two other cars.

It is unclear whether Ahmad, who remained defiant despite being slapped with the party suspension, has also been detained.

PAS leader Mujahid Yusuf Rawa, who was at the police station, did not mince his words in arguing that Ahmad should be the one detained under ISA and "not the journalist who reported what he had said".

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