The Centre for Independent Journalism is a non-profit organisation promoting media independence and freedom of expression in Malaysia.
THE Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) has urged Putrajaya to stop its intimidation of Malaysiakini and China Press over their reports on Deputy Inspector-General of Police Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani’s recent statement about a rape threat against a 17-year-old school girl.
“It is disturbing that the Home Ministry has threatened to summon these news organisations for reporting the issue.
“If the authorities are of the view that they have been misquoted or misrepresented, they are entitled to clarify their statement, which the police have done.
“The press should not be subjected to being summoned by the government or threatened with action simply because the authorities are dissatisfied with the manner in which a report was presented. Independence is a key component of the media’s ability to hold authorities to account,” CIJ said in a statement.
The CIJ said the media in Malaysia will never be free as long as it is subjected to being summoned by the authorities each time they are portrayed negatively in a report.
“It is precisely these kinds of actions from the authorities that contributed to Malaysia’s precipitous fall of 18 spots on the 2020 World Press Freedom Index.”
Yesterday, the Home Ministry said that it would immediately summon Malaysiakini and China Press over their recent news articles on Acryl’s remarks about an alleged rape threat a student received from a classmate.
Bukit Aman’s IGP Secretariat also issued a statement earlier denying Acryl had made light of reports of teen rape by describing them as “a joke”.
Bukit Aman also alleged that Malaysiakini and China Press used confusing headlines and failed to provide the full context of Acryl’s comments when he addressed the topic at a press conference in Shah Alam.
Acryl had allegedly said that the rape threat against a teenager was “maybe a joke”. He subsequently came under heavy criticism for trivialising rape and belittling the victim.
Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam, 17, had lodged two police reports calling out a teacher who allegedly made jokes about rape, and the second over an apparent rape threat she received from one of her classmates.
She gained attention with a TikTok post about a male teacher who had allegedly made a joke about rape during school. Her exposé had triggered a rape threat from a male classmate.
The CIJ said that the media should not be targeted for reporting the deputy IGP’s statement verbatim, nor should the police force be seen as enabling rape culture by making such remarks.
“The police force must not be seen to be enabling a rape culture in Malaysia and statements such as that made by the deputy IGP can easily be construed as such. Rape, including threats of rape, is a crime, and should never be treated as a possibility that it may be a joke,” it said.
It added that such statements from the police force must be investigated, censured and reprimanded regardless of rank.
The CIJ also asked that the Independent Police Complaints of Misconduct Commission be set up soon so that police would be held accountable for their actions.
It also suggested that the police, home ministry and public officials should be made to attend regular gender sensitisation training. – April 28, 2021.
Source: The Malaysian Insight