There are some 1,000 journalists at Balai Berita, professionals who wield an instrument said to be mightier than the sword but whose mouths have been stuffed by yesterday's unprecedented gag order.
... no employees of the company are allowed to engage in or provide comments to the public, Press (international or local), television stations or any other media organisations except for the Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and the Group Editor in Chief."After the shock discovery that their group editor had plagiarized the work of a American journalist and has quit amid that scandal, the journalists at Balai Berita wanted answers. They wanted Brendan P to face them and give them his excuses. They wanted to ask the CEO why Brendan should not be sacked and why his resignation takes effect on Dec 31. They wanted to talk about plagiarism, the BIG sin. They wanted the GEIC to tell them if they, too, can use their positions as journalists to secure a small business contract for their spouses.
No one saw the gag order coming. "When Tun (Dr Mahathir) said Pak Lah is turning this country into a police state, our editors rubbished him," a young editor from the NST said. "Our papers rubbished him. Heck, some of us rubbished him! But now, what gives? We are journalists and we are not allowed to talk about these things? They are going to sack me if I talk about plagiarism with Tok Najib (the Deputy Prime Minister) and with my drinking buddies?"
"The company views this seriously and will not hesitate to take action should this be compromised."I have read about gag orders on journalists and the media by governments in Iran, Poland and several other countries widely considered as "police states".
for an update on BBC's response to NST's intimidation, click here.