Drop all investigations against the media, govt told
May 24, 2021
PETALING JAYA: Several media advocacy groups, including the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), have urged Putrajaya to drop all ongoing investigations against media organisations.
In a joint statement, they expressed alarm over how the media had been harassed by the authorities of late, citing five specific incidents this year alone involving FMT, Malaysiakini, China Press and Astro Awani.
They called for an end to summoning members of the media over news articles and for ongoing investigations to be dropped, warning that intimidating journalists was a sign of a “failing state”.
They also called for an independent inquiry into the possible mismanagement of power by the authorities in acting against the media, citing how Malaysia’s press freedom index has dropped 18 places.
“Move ahead with the establishment of the Malaysian Media Council as a transparent and independent self-regulatory body for the industry, to avoid the government becoming the sole arbiter of truth and deciding what information should and should not be published.
“We remind the state and its leaders that encouraging an open and effective media serves to improve the environment for long-term social, political, and economic stability,” said NUJ, the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm).
The statement was also endorsed by 18 other civil societies, NGOs and individuals, including the Malaysian Bar’s Andrew Khoo, Patriot, G25 and Suaram.
Several Malaysiakini journalists were called up by police in the span of eight days to give their statements over its reports on the custodial death of A Ganapathy, and former top cop Abdul Hamid Bador’s allegations at his final press conference.
Meanwhile, Gombak police chief Arifai Tarawe had threatened to sue FMT over two articles written about his recent transfer to Bukit Aman.
Astro Awani is being probed over an alleged controversial news delivery in one of its programmes, while China Press is expected to be summoned for an “inaccurate” report quoting the then deputy inspector-general of police Acryl Sani Abdullah as describing reports of teen rape as “a joke”.