Malaysian blogger Syed Azidi Syed Aziz, or kickdefella, was arrested today. From initial reports, it is not clear if he was arrested for inciting the public to fly the national flag upside-down or for an article he wrote. Other reports suggest that Syed Azidi is being investigated under Section 4 (1) of the Sedition Act.
According to reports, Syed Azidi was arrested at his home in Kota Baru, on the east coast of the country. His wife, Bariah, was reported to have said she was confused as the police had not produced any warrant of arrest, which is said to be the normal procedure for those detained under the Act.
Kickdefella's arrest does not come as a surprise, considering the uproar he created when he suggested bloggers post their flags upside down on their blog sites. On 22 August 2008, it was reported that he was under police probe. It has been reported that Syed Azidi himself feared he would be arrested because of his online appeal to fly the national flag upside down as a sign of protest that the nation was in distress.
This recent arrest comes five days after popular blogger and webmaster of Malaysia Today, Raja Petra Kamaruddin (RPK), was detained without trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA) on 12th September 2008. It was reported that RPK is in custody under the ISA for publishing articles which tarnished the country's leadership and insulted Islam.
Since RPK's detention without trial, two others have been taken in by the authorities under the ISA. Journalist, Tan Hoon Cheng, of Sin Chew Daily, was apprehended. Initially, it was thought it was because she had reported racist remarks made by a member of Parliament from the ruling coalition. The newspaper she writes for was given a show cause letter earlier in the month on the same matter. Tan was released after 18 hours. Home Minister, Syed Hamid Albar, was reported to have said that Tan was detained for her own good (for more, click here).
The final detainee is a member of Parliament from the opposition coalition, Teresa Kok. She was was accused of having asked the mosques to turn down the volume for their calls to prayer. She had denied this accusation, and the religious leaders from the mosques confirmed that she had not made any request or caused a petition to this effect. This notwithstanding, she was still apprehended (for more, click here and here).
These three arrests occurred in less than twelve hours. Some have asked if this is the authorities way of invoking fear in citizens, especially in light of Anwar Ibrahim's bid to secure power over the ruling coalition, which has been in power for 51 years.
Unlike the arrests under the ISA, Syed Azidi will have access to the courts. He is expected to appear before Kota Baru Magistrates courts tomorrow for the police to obtain a remand order. Thereafter, he will be taken to the nation's capital, Kuala Lumpur.