Home Civil Society Voices Tindakan mengejut terdahap pemberi maklumat Lalitha Kunaratnam (Malay/English)

Tindakan mengejut terdahap pemberi maklumat Lalitha Kunaratnam (Malay/English)

Skop perlindungan untuk pemberi maklumat harus dikembangkan dan diperkukuhkan

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[ENGLISH VERSION BELOW] Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) sangat terkejut dan kecewa melihat tindakan ketua pesuruhjaya Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia Azam Baki menfailkan saman fitnah terhadap wartawan Lalitha Kunaratnam.

Tindakan Azam ini dilihat sebagai satu bentuk intimidasi dan serangan terhadap wartawan yang telah menulis berita berasaskan bukti dan penyiasatan yang menyentuh isu kepentingan awam tanpa sebarang niat buruk. Saman fitnah ini menimbulkan tanda tanya bagi peranan Azam sebagai pegawai awam yang sewajarnya menggunakan kapasiti profesional beliau untuk bekerja menghentikan rasuah dalam negara ini serta mendukung hak media untuk melaporkan perkara tersebut.

Menjadi peranan media untuk menyiasat dan melaporkan perkara yang memberi kesan kepada kepercayaan dan kebertanggungjawaban institusi awam sebagai langkah untuk memastikan ketelusan dan memastikan mereka melaksanakan tugas mereka.

Memulakan dakwaan terhadap media samalah seperti menidakkan hak orang awam untuk tahu dan mendapat akses kepada maklumat agar mereka boleh membuat pilihan atau pandangan yang wajar. Tuntutan mahkamah seperti ini digunakan untuk menyekat kebebasan bersuara dan berucap dalam bentuk intimidasi terhadap organisasi pemerhati dan pengkritik, seperti media dan aktivis yang berjuang mempertahankan demokrasi, serta menyusutkan sumber kewangan mereka.

Menggunakan tindakan mahkamah sebagai serangan balas terhadap wartawan bebas adalah sesuatu yang membimbangkan terutamanya ramai dalam kalangan mereka menyentuh isu-isu yang kompleks atau skandal. Dalam banyak keadaan, barisan wartawan ini tidak mempunyai sumber kewangan dan bantuan perundangan yang memadai. Hal ini mewujudkan satu keadaan di mana para wartawan terpaksa bekerja dalam suasana ketakutan.

Laporan siasatan adalah bahagian penting daripada kebebasan bersuara dan hak untuk bermaklumat. Media juga memainkan peranan sebagai pemberi maklumat. Justeru, perlindungan terhadap pemberi maklumat adalah penting bagi menjaga kepentingan awam dan menggalakkan budaya ketelusan dan berintegriti.

READ MORE:  MACC incident reflects lack of protection for whistleblowers?

Kami menyokong Lalitha dan barisan wartawan yang lain yang telah diganggu dan disasarkan hanya kerana mereka menjalankan tanggungjawab mereka bagi menyediakan berita yang berasaskan fakta yang turut menimbulkan persoalan penting berkaitan dengan kepentingan awam. Kami turut menggesa agar perlindungan dan sokongan terhadap usaha mereka bagi mendedahkan dakwaan rasuah dan kontroversi dipertingkatkan.

Oleh yang demikian, kami menyeru agar cadangan-cadangan berikut dilaksanakan serta merta:

  • Azam harus menarik semula fail saman dan berhenti mengganggu para wartawan serta merta
  • Pemerintah harus menjamin suasana yang selamat dan menggalakkan buat media dengan menilai semula dan meminda undang-undang fitnah yang sering digunakan sebagai serangan dan gangguan terhadap laporan media yang bersikap kritikal terhadap institusi awam atau individu yang menduduki jawatan awam
  • Akta Perlindungan Pemberi Maklumat 2010 harus dinilai semula dan skop perlindungannya harus dikembangkan dan diperkukuhkan dengan segera
  • Segera mewujudkan majlis media Malaysia sebagai badan tadbir kendiri yang bebas dan telus untuk industri media dan mengelakkan pihak pemerintah dan agensinya menjadi satu-satunya rujukan kebenaran
  • Menyiasat dakwaan terhadap Azam Baki dan mendukung integriti SPRM dan pemerintah

English version

CIJ stands by Lalitha Kunaratnam and demands better protection for media

The Centre for Independent Journalism is appalled and disappointed by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki’s defamation suit against journalist Lalitha Kunaratnam.

Azam’s move is seen as a form of intimidation and reprisal against a journalist, who in good faith provided evidence and research-based news articles on a matter of public interest. This defamation suit further calls into question the role of Azam, as a public official, who in his own professional capacity should be working towards the elimination of corruption in the country and upholding the media’s rights to report on news related to these matters.

READ MORE:  Jawatankuasa pilihan khas parlimen harus bebas dan telus dalam siasatan terhadap Azam Baki (Malay/English)

It is the media’s role to investigate and report on matters that would affect the trust and credibility of public institutions as a necessary means of ensuring transparency and holding them accountable. Initiating litigation against the media is akin to denying the public’s right to know and access information that would enable them to make informed decisions and form opinions. This form of retaliatory lawsuit is used to deter the freedom of expression and speech by intimidating watchdogs and critics, such as the media or activists who safeguard our democracy, and financially draining their resources.

The use of retaliatory lawsuits against an independent journalist is concerning when many of them bring attention to complex issues or scandals. In many instances, these journalists do not have the financial means and legal support. It creates a worrying precedent where journalists are forced to operate within a climate of fear.

The government should be proactive in responding to allegations and claims highlighted by the media – and ensure that its laws and mechanisms are not (mis)used to restrict and punish the media for doing its critical reporting job.

Investigative reports are an integral part of freedom of expression and the right to information. The media add another layer as whistleblowers. Protection of whistleblowers is also essential as it safeguards public interest and promotes a culture of public accountability and integrity.

We stand by Lalitha and other journalists who have been harassed and targeted for simply performing their duty to provide fact-based reports that raised a legitimate question in the public’s interests. We also demand better protection and support for their efforts in uncovering alleged corruption and controversies.

READ MORE:  Shambolic protection for whistleblowers comes full circle

To that end, we call on the following recommendations to be adopted at once:

  • Azam Baki must, without any delay, withdraw the defamation suit and stop the harassment of the journalist
  • The state to guarantee a safe and enabling environment for media by reviewing and amending defamation laws that are often used as retaliation and harassment against media reports which are critical of public institutions or individuals holding public office
  • The Whistleblowers Act 2010 must be reviewed and its scope of protection expanded and strengthened with no further delays
  • Move ahead with the establishment of the Malaysian Media Council as a transparent and independent self-regulatory body for the industry and to avoid the government and its agencies from becoming the sole arbiter of truth
  • Investigate the allegations against Azam and uphold the integrity of the MACC and the state

Wathshlah Naidu is executive director of the Centre for Independent Journalism

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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