Staff from The Malaysian Insider (TMI) and The Edge should not have been arrested under the Sedition Act 1948, said Public Accounts Committee chairperson Nur Jazlan Mohamed.
Nur Jazlan, who is also a TMI columnist, said he believes that TMI’s report that led to the arrests was a case of misreporting, with neither the intention to incite nor the ability to do so with the offending article.
"They shouldn’t have been arrested under the Sedition Act. If there was a mistake, there will be other laws to deal with it.
"This one, I think it is a mistake (in reporting). It shouldn’t be under the Sedition Act," the Pulai MP told reporters today when met.
Instead of arresting TMI managing editor Lionel Morais, senior editors Zulkifli Sulong and Amin Shah Iskandar, executive director Jahabar Sadiq, and The Edge publisher Ho Kay Tat, Nur Jazlan said the Rulers Council could have demanded an apology or sued TMI for defamation.
The police could have also called them to a police station for questioning, instead of raiding their office and arresting them.
"But even before they do that, the police have already taken action... The laws are in place, you don't have to use the Sedition Act. You just have to look at the context," he said.
However, the Nur Jazlan stressed that he was in favour of retaining the Sedition Act, but that it should be used sparingly.
He added that the arrests were "an error" that the public would perceive the action as excessive, and this could lead to a backlash on the government in the future.
To a question whether the arrests would have a chilling effect on reporters, Nur Jazlan said the online media operates differently from the traditional media.
"I hope it doesn't give the opposite effect - making the reporters more active," he said.