Aliran condemns the hauling up up of a Free Malaysia Today reporter for questioning today over his recent report, “Fed up of waiting, the military rolls into flood relief”.
The report refers to the armed forces’ alleged initiative to conduct relief efforts without the permission of the National Disaster Management Agency.
This is raw censorship as it tampers with the role that the public expects journalists to play – that is, holding the authorities to account through media reporting.
If there was a journalistic error in the report, affected parties should have brought it to the attention of the media outlet for correction. A right of reply would have been in order.
Any journalistic error – if there was one in this case – should not be deemed a criminal act. Nor should the FMT reporter be made an example of to other journalists, many of whom are eager to make a difference in society through independent reporting.
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In many parts of the world, journalists and civil society groups are challenging governments that suppress media freedom and the work of independent editors and journalists.
We in Malaysia must not be allowed to go down the path of nations that suppress critical media and intimidate and jail their editors and journalists. The right to media freedom must be upheld at all times so that the public can read other views, even if they may not be aligned with the official version.
In the name of justice and press freedom, we call on the police to drop the investigation into the FMT reporter altogether. Such acts by the police may be perceived as thinly veiled threats that if unchecked will eventually force journalists and eventually civil society into submission and silence.
Aliran executive committee
5 January 2022