Journalist detained, beaten, while covering street protests

JANUARY 26, 2008
Posted February 1, 2008

Syed Jaymal Zahiid, Malaysiakini

Police arrested Syed Jaymal, a correspondent for the online news provider Malaysiakini, while he was covering demonstrators protesting high food costs in Kuala Lumpur. He was charged with obstructing a police officer, a criminal offense punishable by two years in prison and possible fines. He was released on RM 1,000 (US$263) bail on January 28. His criminal case scheduled to be heard on June 14.     

Malaysiakini Editor K. Kabilan said Syed Jaymal had identified himself as a journalist to police officials, from whom he was requesting information about a group of protesters that had been detained. An estimated 200 people were arrested in a government crackdown on the protests, according to news reports.  

Kabilan said Syed Jaymal was pushed, punched, and pulled by the hair during the two days he was in police custody. The reporter filed three separate police reports for alleged assault and illegal detention. “He is upset over the treatment meted out to him. So are we, as he was there to do his job,” Kabilan told CPJ.
Malaysiakini is one of Malaysia’s few independent news sources and has given significant news coverage to the recent series of antigovernment street protests that the government-influenced mainstream media played down. Kabilan told CPJ that while he is not certain that Malaysiakini was purposely targeted by the authorities, “we know that the police are not so happy with [our] coverage.”