Malaysian police re-arrest two for sedition

Malaysian police Tuesday re-arrested an activist and an opposition politician under the Sedition Act, their lawyer said, in the latest move to spark tensions following divisive polls early this month.

Activist Haris Ibrahim and politician Tamrin Ghafar were arrested last week under the act, but were released after a court declined a police application to hold them in custody.

The arrests were in connection with comments made at a public forum, alleging that fraud marred the May 5 general election and cost the opposition victory.

Prime Minister Najib Razak's 56-year-ruling coalition won the polls.

"We suspect they want to charge them", lawyer Gobind Singh Deo told AFP of the re-arrests.

He said a student activist who helped organise a weekend mass rally against election fraud was also detained Tuesday, but he did not have further details.

A police spokesman could not immediately comment on the arrests.

Najib said last year he would repeal the decades-old Sedition Act as part of reforms to guarantee greater civil liberties.

But activists and the opposition have dismissed his changes as insincere, pointing to the latest arrests.

Another student activist was charged in court last week with sedition over comments at the same public forum. If found guilty, he faces up to three years in prison.

Tens of thousands of people have flocked to opposition rallies throughout the country since the polls.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is alleging widespread fraud, including "dubious" voters casting ballots in tightly fought constituencies due to irregularities in the electoral roll.

Indelible ink that was used to mark voters' fingers to prevent double voting was also shown to wash off in many cases. The ink was a key change introduced by the government, bowing to demands of electoral reform groups.

The government has portrayed the opposition as sore losers and insisted the elections were fair.