KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 — A columnist with online news portal The Malaysian Insider is under police investigation for an article critical of police action on #KitaLawan rally participants.

It is understood that Khoo Ying Hooi, a Universiti Malaya academic, is being investigated under Section 500 of the Penal Code for defamation over an article titled “Who owns the police?”

“They asked me why I wrote in such a way, why I wrote the police had overreacted... I am an academic specialising in protests and social movements and what I wrote is part of my academic field,” she told Malay Mail Online when contacted.

She added that the police took her statement over the matter yesterday.

In the article, Khoo said the police have come under criticism for the continued use of Section 9(5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA) to arrests participant of the rally.

The law was deemed unconstitutional by the Court of Appeal.

She had also questioned the police on alleged selective action and used examples of police reaction in protests in the United States in the commentary.

“Protests are controversial everywhere. Hence, as an academic, it’s within my field to write about it,” she commented on the matter.

Yesterday, the Inspector-General of Police said the chief editor of The Malaysian Insider will also be questioned over “inaccurate and confusing” reporting.

Last April, the Court of Appeal ruled it unconstitutional to criminalise spontaneous public assemblies in breach of a 10-day notice required under Section 9(1) of the PAA, and also ordered that Section 9(5) — which imposes a maximum RM10,000 fine for non-compliance — be struck out for running counter to the Federal Constitution.

On March 7, thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Kuala Lumpur in support of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was handed a five-year jail sentence last month for allegedly sodomising his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, in 2008.

Police previously issued a warning that the rally, headlined as #KitaLawan, was unlawful, as its organisers had allegedly failed to follow the conditions laid out in the Peaceful Assembly Act.

Police have arrested at least 11 people over previous #KitaLawan rallies.