Syed Hamid Denies Ordering ISA Detentions
Speaking at a packed press conference in Bukit Aman here today, Syed Hamid said that he was informed of the arrest by the police.
"I did not order it," said Syed Hamid.
He said that the three were detained to prevent any public order to be in jeopardy.
Yesterday Sin Chew Daily News journalist Tan Hoon Cheng, prominent blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin and Selangor state executive councilor Teresa Kok were picked up by police under the ISA. Tan was released this afternoon while the fate of the other two is still unknown.
Syed Hamid said that the three were arrested under Section 73(1) of the ISA which empowers the police to detain a person for a period of 60 days without the minister’s consent.
He clarified that the arrest was not done under Section 8 in which the minister’s consent is needed and the detention period is up to two years.
On the reason why Raja Petra was arrested, Syed Hamid said that it was linked to investigations that his writings could create tension among the Muslims and the police had given the blogger ample notice to "tone down".
He said that Tan was arrested to help police in further investigating her report on Bukit Bendera Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail’s racial remarks. The minister also said that they received information that there were threats to Tan’s security.
Ahmad had during a ceramah in the Permatang Pauh by-election said that the Chinese were squatters, a remark that whipped up protest from the MCA, Gerakan and DAP. Umno suspended Ahmad from holding any party post for three years last week.
Kok was detained in relation to the azan issue, said Syed Hamid.
Recently, Kok had been linked to a petition allegedly calling for the tone of the morning azan in her state constituency of Kinrara to be lowered. Kok has vehemently denied such allegations.
DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang had said in a press conference this morning that the azan issue was raised by former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Khir Toyo and played up by the Utusan Malaysia newspaper. He said that the mosque committee and the PAS MP for the area had also denied such an issue.
To a question on why Ahmad and Khir Toyo were not detained, Syed Hamid said that the detention of the three should not be looked at from an "ethnic angle". (The Edge)
***** Having rushed headlong into rashly arresting the three, the government was not prepared for the backlash especially from the various BN component parties. By this afternoon when the rest of the BN had roundly denounced the arrests, it had become clear to all that this silly act was solely Umno's handiwork and simple calculation would have revealed that Umno had overnight lost for good whatever little non-Malay support it had. Thus the backtracking by releasing the Sin Chew reporter and Syed Hamid's pathetic denial of culpability.
Ahmad Ismail and Toyol were not arrested simply because it would have been badly received by the umnoputeras and some other Malays. And Pak Lah with his current weak standing can't afford to rile that constituency without serious repercussions.
This is purely a self-serving political arrest meant to keep the umnoputeras in good humour. Unfortunately the non-Malays here along with a considerable number of Malays and almost all East Malaysians aren't amused.
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