Ten police reports have been lodged against online news portal Malaysiakini and its Penang-based assistant editor Susan Loone over a news report said to have defamed the police.
The reports were lodged by Perkasa, and 13 other NGOs that called themselves ‘The Coalition of Penang Malay Representatives’, at the Jalan Pantai police station in Penang about 6pm yesterday.
The NGOs urged the police to investigate the article headlined ' Disoal siasat selama 4 jam, dakwa dilayan seperti penjenayah ' published on Monday on Malaysiakini's Bahasa Malaysia site.
T he news report is a translation of Loone's article, ' Exco man grilled for four hours, treated like a criminal ', also published on the same day.
The report is based on a telephone interview at about 1.30am on Monday, during which Penang state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh ( right ) told Malaysiakini he was treated like a "criminal", with the police interrogating him for four hours and taking his mugshots and his fingerprints.
Phee was held overnight in the lock-up before being released on police bail the next day.
According to the report lodged by Penang Perkasa Youth chief Mohd Rizuad Mohd Azudin, the Malaysiakini article is “seditious”.
"It (article) intends to sow public hatred and anger against the police," Rizuad said. "The question is, if Phee claimed he was treated like a criminal, how could he have been interviewed over the phone?
"Phee could use his mobile phone (despite being in police custody) and he was given his rights according to law. His statement (about being treated like a criminal) is wrong, inaccurate and malicious," he added.
Rizuad ( left ) urged Penang police chief Abdul Rahim Hanafi to initiate action against Loone for defaming the police force as the writer had intended to "tarnish the image and credibility of the police".
Rahim, when asked about Phee’s comments on Monday, had reportedly brushed the claims aside as the exco member's "personal opinion" and said the police had followed standard operating procedures.
Phee was in interrogation room
When contacted yesterday, Phee said he was in the police station’s interrogation room when he spoke to Loone, and therefore had access to his mobile phone. All personal belongings are removed by the police before an individual is sent to the lock-up.
In the Malaysiakini news report, Phee had also said he did not blame the police as they were “very nice” to him, adding that the personnel there, like himself, were "victims of circumstances".
Phee was investigated under Section 43 of the 1966 Societies Act, a charge that includes being involved in secret societies.
Phee, who heads the Penang Voluntary Patrol Unit (PPS), was one of the 156 members who were arrested on Sunday after his statement was recorded by the police.
The crackdown on the PPS came in the wake of Iinspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar’s declaration that the group was "illegal" as it was not registered with the Registrar of Societies (ROS).
Khalid also accused the PPS members of being "gangsters" - a charge Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has vehemently denied.
Lim has defended the PPS, saying it was a body approved by the state cabinet in 2009, and was eventually formed in 2011 to respond to disasters and provide community service to Penangites.
The police are currently on the lookout for the remaining PPS members, who are among 9,002 representing 299 teams across the northern state.