PETALING JAYA: DAP’s Liew Chin Tong today called the government’s detention of Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol a “black eye for Malaysia”.
The Kluang MP was referring to a report that Akyol had been nabbed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) yesterday where he had gone to board a flight to Rome via Istanbul at 11.35pm.
“I am very concerned with the detention of Mustafa Akyol, the prominent Turkish author and journalist at KLIA. I am worried for his safety because as of noon today, I read news that he is yet to be released.
“It is a black eye for Malaysia when the government detains such a renowned writer who was cordially invited to our country to share his views on democracy, freedom and peace,” Liew said in a statement.
Liew, who is DAP’s national political education director, added that Akyol had been one of the speakers at a talk entitled “Is Democracy Still Relevant?”, hosted by the party in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
Calling for his swift release, Liew said Akyol’s arrest put Malaysia in a negative light on the global stage as the journalist writes for many international media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post and The Guardian in UK.
“His detention has proven that Malaysia has an ‘illiberal government’, a similar sentiment that Akyol had voiced out in many of his writings about ‘illiberal democracy’, which he described as a system where elections are held but civil liberties such as freedom of speech are curtailed,” Liew said.
At the forum on Sunday, Akyol had criticised governments who use draconian laws to remain in power.
“You won’t be in power forever and when you’re out of power, you will realise that these illiberal systems that you created will make things very difficult for you,” Akyol had said.
Akyol had been in Malaysia since last week, and was called in for questioning by the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) yesterday.
He was questioned under Section 11 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act, for the offence of teaching without official credentials from the religious authorities.
The Turkish-born Akyol, now based in the United States, is a critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and is known for speaking out against both Islamists and secularists in his home country.