KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 — The federal police confirmed today that Kean Wong — the editor of a controversial banned book allegedly depicting a modified national coat-of-arms — has been released from custody in the ongoing investigations into the book’s publication.
In confirming Wong’s release, Bukit Aman’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) director Datuk Seri Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain said Wong was initially detained upon renewing his passport at the Kelana Jaya immigration office on October 16.
“The case is being investigated under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act, Section 8(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act by the classified crimes investigation unit,” he said in a statement.
Mohd Suhaily also urged the public to refrain from engaging in any speculation that may jeopardise the investigation before it is completed.
The book, titled Rebirth: Reformasi, Resistance, And Hope in New Malaysia, was banned on July 1, 2020, under the Printing Presses and Publications (Control of Undesirable Publications) Order 2020.
At the time, the book was also the subject of an investigation into whether its cover had allegedly insulted the Malaysian federal coat of arms.
Wong was then reported to be in Australia as he is also a permanent resident of the country.
Earlier, civil society organisations condemned Wong’s arrest and called for his immediate release.
The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) in a statement said Wong’s arrest and investigation by the police was indicative of how the state has used its authority to censor fellow Malaysians’ freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.
Its executive director Wathshlah G. Naidu said Wong’s arrest three years after the publication of the book showcases the state’s commitment to suppressing the public’s ability to both inform the public and to speak out no matter how warranted.
Human rights watchdog Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) said Wong has also been unjustifiably retained in the police’s suspect list and subject to arrest upon return to Malaysia since 2020.