Media detentions ‘our internal affair’, Malaysia tells US

September 15th, 2008 - 1:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Sep 15 (IANS) While criticism against the government mounted at home, Malaysia Monday asked the US to desist from commenting or protesting at last week’s detentions of a woman lawmaker, a woman reporter and a blogger.”Stop meddling in our affairs,” said Foreign Minister Rais Yatim in response to Washington’s protest over last Friday’s detentions under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA).

MP Teresa Kok, Malaysia Today blog editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin and Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng were detained Friday in connection with media reports of an allegedly racist speech by a ruling party leader during the campaign against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in a parliamentary by-election last month.

Ibrahim won the poll, but the reporting of a speech against him has sparked a row in Malaysia.

“The US likes to think of itself as the world’s policeman and it has been doing this for the past decade, every time we want to enforce our public laws,” Rais was quoted as saying in The Star after the US State Department summoned a top Malaysian diplomat Friday to complain of ├╝nfair curbs on media”.

Rais said while the use of the ISA as a preventative detention law may appear to be questionable by some quarters, the sovereignty of the country must still be respected.

The US has repeatedly taken a critical stand on media curbs and “unfair trial and investigations” against Ibrahim, who is fighting a sodomy charge.

Lawyers acting for Teresa and Kamaruddin said they would be filing a writ of habeas corpus seeking their release.

Protests against the move have come from partners of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a constituent of the Barisan Nasional alliance, has severely criticised the detention as has the MCA Youth, the party’s youth wing, which has asked that the ISA be disbanded.

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