Monday, May 31, 2021

It's a police state now as far as journos and bloggers are concerned?

BSC, May 31: Last week, three media-related groups called on the police to stop harassing and intimidating  journalists. Read their letter h e r e. Excerpts: 

It is a worrying pattern to see journalists being summoned by the police for their reporting. This year alone, we saw at least five incidents where journalists are being questioned and investigated. It is alarming that the same media outlet is being targeted and this year alone, Malaysiakini has been summoned at least two times.

Specifically, we have seen the following media called in for investigations in the last few months:

1) Astro Awani - controversial news delivery by Awani’s newsreader on the ‘Awani 745’ news programme

2) Free Malaysia Today (FMT) - Gombak Police Chief threatened to sue FMT over two news articles

3) China Press - over reports on DIGP’s rape threat remark

I'm delighted, of course, to know that NUJ, Geramm and CIJ have decided to take the issue up publicly. If you'd read my May 7 posting In Malaysia, big shots using the Police to silence their critics, you'd know that this predicament isn't journalists alone. Bloggers and micro-bloggers (FB, Twitter, other social media) have been subject to the same kind of treatment, too. 

In the case of these bloggers, they often find themselves without much support. With journalists, we at least have our media organisations defending and protecting us. When award-winning seasoned journalist P. Gunasegaram got that "love letter" from billionaire Francis Yeoh, his news organisation (Petra News, publisher of The Vibes and Getaran) despatched their team of lawyers to defend him. 

In the case of A Voice, the blogger who addresses some of Gunasegaram's concerns, he was all alone when the police called him in and confiscated first his handphone the a few weeks later his laptop. Another blogger, Aspan Alias has got at least a dozen police reports against him for a critical posting involving the King.

The police are simply following procedures, of course. But it's broken and it has been broken for a long time and should be fixed.

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