IoJM calls for action against Utusan Malaysia for repeated salary delays

The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJM) would like to draw attention to the recent delay in salary payments to some 800 staff of Utusan Malaysia.

This is not the first time the company has delayed salaries, and this recent incident involves wages for the month of July.

The media reported that the affected staff are those who come under the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). Executive staff salaries were reportedly delayed for two months and only received RM2,000 in June.

By December last year, a number of employees had accepted the voluntary separation scheme (VSS) as part of the company’s cost cutting measures. However, those payments were also delayed.

While the entire media industry is suffering from lowered revenues and uncertain times, media corporations, like any other, have a responsibility to their staff to provide timely salaries as agreed contractually, or a viably responsible alternative solution.

The IoJM calls on the relevant authorities to take action against Utusan Malaysia, and any other corporations found to be in breach of such contract. The IoJM strongly states that media organisations must ensure adequate resources to fulfill their financial obligations to their employees. — August 12, 2019.

IoJM strongly objects to journalist’s arrest at Temiar blockade

The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJM) strongly objects to the manner in which freelance photojournalist Alexandra Radu was “taken away” for documentation purposes in the course of reporting on the destruction of the Temiar blockade into Kampung Sungai Papan, Perak.

Recounting the sequence of events to the IoJM, Ms. Radu said that she was on assignment for The Diplomat when five cars carrying plainclothes policemen and some loggers arrived on site. They tore down the blockage and one of the officers who introduced himself as an inspector asked Ms. Radu to show her JPM-issued foreign media pass and an entry permit issued by the Perak Forestry department because she was on reserve land.

Ms. Radu said she didn’t have a permit because she didn’t know that she was on reserve land, and the officer arrested her.

She was detained at the Grik police station where her phone and passport confiscated. She said she was questioned by the station inspector, an officer from the Perak Forestry Department, and a Special Branch officer.

Ms. Radu told the IoJM that the police were polite during the questioning, and let her go after two hours. The Forestry officer said that she was being let go with a warning, and that if she came back again without a permit, she would be arrested.

Why were officers from three different agencies involved in questioning Ms. Radu, and why did it take two hours? The number of personnel and amount time it took seems disproportionate with the alleged offence.

Ms. Radu is now safely home in Kuala Lumpur, but the fact still remains that a journalist was stopped from doing her job. Her detention, even if temporary and based on a technicality, is still state interference in the media performing its work.

For the public to have a clear and transparent picture of current events, journalists both local and foreign, should have the ability to report events without fear or favour, especially without intervention by enforcement authorities.

Previously, two foreign journalists had also been arrested by the Kelantan state forestry department while covering the Pos Bihai protests in Gua Musang.

We acknowledge that it is indeed a requirement by the Forestry Department to obtain an entry permit before entering a forest reserve area and that it is to ensure visitors’ personal safety.

In this case, however, the authorities should clarify the reasons for her detention, and why it needed the say-so of Perak Mentri Besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu to instruct that Ms Radu should not be detained, as reported by MalaysiaKini.

The IoJM Executive Committee 2019-2020

The IoJM’s new lineup

Some are old, some are new, none are borrowed and sacré bleu!

Hey everybody, in case you’re wondering what went down at the AGM, well yes, we have a kinda-new lineup.

And here it is.

President: Lau Chak Onn (Cilisos)

Secretary: Yvonne Lim (The Malaysian Insight)

Treasurer: Qishin Tariq (The Star)

Exco:

Sean Trevor Augustin (Free Malaysia Today)

Tehmina Kaoosji (Bernama TV)

Uihua Cheah (asklegal.my)

Vincent Tan

Here’s hoping we will be able to serve the fraternity better in the term to come.

The New Lineup

Like every nation that espouses democracy, we to hold elections.

Accept the one we had a few months ago wasn’t rigged and results were in almost immediately.

So here is the new line-up:

Chairman


Chak Onn Lau (Cilisos.my)

Secretary


Gan Pei Ling (The Malaysian Insight)

Treasurer


Qishin Tariq (The Star)

Board members

Tehmina Kaoosji (Freelance broadcast journalist)

Vincent Tan (The Star)

Sean Augustin (Free Malaysia Today)

Priya Kulasagaran (Freelance writer)

Pay you, pay me: Results of IOJM’s Media Salary Survey

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9, 2018: Malaysia’s first ever Media Salary Survey for journalists was released this morning, by the Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IOJ) at the Cooler Lumpur Festival taking place in Publika shopping mall.

The online survey saw 208 professionals taking part, with over 63.8% comprising reporters.

Participants with more senior positions, such as section editors and management editors also took part in the survey.

Out of 208 respondents, 54.3% of survey respondents hailed from English-language media, 19% from Bahasa Malaysia, the remaining 25.6% from Chinese media.

The majority of the respondents were in the category of writer/journalists, with average salaries of RM3,619.14.

However, the responses also showed Chinese-language reporters and writers earning substantially lower than their English or Malay-language counterparts, averaging RM2,678.70, compared to RM4,310.07 for English language writers and RM3,432.20 for BM writers.

While all writers start around the same salary, it was found that with more years of experience, the hikes in wages were significantly less for Chinese media.

Interestingly, the survey results also showed that female writers generally earned more than their male counterparts when the results were broken down by number of years in the industry.

While nearly 60% of survey respondents said they put in 9 to 10 hours in a typical workday, another 19% said they worked 8 hours or less.

Also, over 40% of respondents believed their media organisations were profitable, whereas 35% said otherwise for their companies, and a further 22% said they did not know how their companies were faring financially.

The survey was released during the one of the festival’s panel workshops – “Saving Journalism in the Age of Social Media”. IOJ Chairman Chak Onn Lau, who presented the results, said the salary survey was part of IOJ’s aim in improving Malaysia’s professional journalism talent.

“We thought it’d be useful for media organisations, and also journalists to know what the standards are right now, and work together to improve them,” Chak said.

While there were a lot of writers who took part in the survey, it was short on responses from photographers and higher-level media professionals such as section editors. Chak, the Editor-in-Chief for online portal Cilisos, said the salary survey next year will also aim to garner more participation from the Malay and Tamil-language media.

“The response was alright, but we hope to get a bigger sample size next year, so that we can obtain more accurate data about the local media industry,” Chak said.

Chak also thanked media database company Telum Media for their help in broadcasting the survey in its regular industry updates to media professionals in Malaysia.

Those interested in the details of the salary survey may email the IOJ at exco.iojm@gmail.com, for copies of the slide presentation

Malaysian media editors agree to pursue the formation of a Press Ombudsperson

On February 6, 2018, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-IFRA)’s Media Freedom Committee Malaysia (MFC Malaysia) organised a closed-door Roundtable for Malaysian media editors in Kuala Lumpur.

This is the second such roundtable that was organised by MFC Malaysia, with the first roundtable, which was also first-of-its-kind in Malaysia, being held on August 1, 2017.

While the first roundtable gave a platform for decision-makers in the Malaysian media landscape to discuss common challenges facing the press in Malaysia, the second roundtable specifically discussed the possibility of setting up a Press Ombudsperson in Malaysia.

One of the main goals of the MFC Malaysia committee, which comprises of nine experienced Malaysian journalists and editors, is to start a conversation about the formation of an independent, self-regulating press council in the country.

While we recognise that a conversation about the formation of a press council is a long process that will take time, we are of the opinion that a body representing the press in Malaysia that would act is a mediator between the government and the media is essential; as the government continues to periodically use criminal laws in taking action against industry players.

As such, the idea of a Press Ombudsperson, that could also help set certain common standards for the industry, was discussed during the roundtable by some 15 editors from different media mediums and languages.

Following the discussion, an overwhelming majority of the editors agreed on the need to have a Press Ombudsperson in Malaysia.

MFC Malaysia recognises that this only the beginning of a series of conversations that has to include many other media houses and editors who were unable to join the discussion.

Following the encouragement given by the media editors at the meeting, the MFC will now form a sub-committee on the formation of a Press Ombudsperson in Malaysia.

This committee will attempt to include the larger media fraternity in this conversation regarding a Press Ombudsperson in Malaysia, and will also come up with several alternative frameworks as to how an Ombudsperson structure can be set up in Malaysia.

For more information, please contact Ram Anand at 016-5289589

Issued by,

Wan-IFRA Media Freedom Committee (Malaysia)

Time to adopt standards and policies to protect female journalists in all work environment

The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJM) is deeply troubled by the accounts of several female journalists in Southeast Asia, especially from Malaysia, regarding sexual harassment and unsolicited sexual advances made on them by politicians and elected representatives, as reported in the Asian Correspondent.:

Female journalists, male politicians and the epidemic of sexual harassment in Asean

Female journalists in the region have thrived for decades, making names for themselves despite facing a sometimes patriarchal working environment in these developing economies.

The detailed account of some of their experiences with politicians must awaken the senses of all media stakeholders in the region. Policies and standards must be put into place to address this issue if we are to see better journalism in our respective countries.

The IoJ commends those female journalists who had the strength to come out and speak against the sexual harassment they endured.

The report cites an incident where a newsroom encouraged a journalist to “capitalise” on the attention given by a politician when she had reported the matter.

We call for a halt to such practices and urge all Malaysian media houses to come up with a strong conduct policy that would protect female journalists in both the office and in the field.

Given that journalists find themselves out of the office a lot, their respective companies must adopt strong complaint mechanisms to make sure that action is taken should they face any sexual harassment, be it from politicians or public figures.

Having such strong standards and policies will not only protect female journalists, but would also be useful in stopping those that harass journalists in other ways, including blackmail or bribery.

As we look to developing a stronger media fraternity in Malaysia, politicians must be held accountable for their behaviour and attitudes towards journalists.

It is especially imperative that editors in Malaysian newsrooms and industry leaders refrain from bowing to politicians and allowing them to get away with uncivilised behaviour.

We urge a strong reaction from fellow journalists to protect our female colleagues, and demand for strong in-house measures to be put into place before harassers can be called out and identified for their actions.

Institute of Journalists Malaysia,
January 17, 2018

MCMC must explain grounds for probe against The Malaysian Insight

We, the undersigned organisations representing journalists in Malaysia, are troubled by the announcement that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is investigating news portal The Malaysian Insight for alleged “insults” against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The claims of “insult” against the PM, which has been repeated over the past two days during the general assembly of Umno, the largest ruling party in the country, has not been backed up by any examples or any proof whatsoever .

It is concerning that a government agency should be so quick to announce a probe against a news agency based on complaints that have not been backed by any proof of intent to “insult” the Prime Minister, as alleged.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak should state the exact provisions under which this probe is taking place, failing which, the action will just be an addition to a long list of criminal investigation against news portals in the country that has only served to curtail press freedom.

If there are any parties that are offended or “insulted” by a particular news coverage, they have adequate avenues to pursue civil legal remedy instead of initiating criminal probe against media organisations.

We would like to stress that criticisms of public office holders is a key part of freedom of speech, which is something guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.

MCMC had in the past blocked access to TMI’s previous iteration, The Malaysian Insider. These actions contributed to the decision of the owners and operators of the portal to eventually shut it down in 2016, leaving the staff at the organisation without a job overnight.

The portal was relaunched under the current name after almost a year’s absence.

The government should keep in mind that such high-handed actions go against its commitment to nurture a vibrant democracy.

Malaysia’s press freedom has been deteriorating over the past decade.

In 2008, Malaysia was ranked 132nd in the World Press Freedom Index. Despite the array of alternative media that has opened up since then, we have gradually slid down to 144th in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index. Our regional neighbours Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia and Burma (who have just opened up their democratic space) are all ranked above Malaysia.

The government should be focusing on opening up the space for the press instead of further crippling the field with threats of criminal action.

We stress that the best resolution to address media freedom concerns in Malaysia is to form an independent media council.

The council should be able to self regulate against media organisations that cross the borders of ethical journalism without the government interfering with criminal investigations.

Wan-IFRA Media Freedom Committee (Malaysia)

Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJM)

Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm)

 

IoJ condemns the alleged assault of two Tamil Malar media practitioners

The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJ) is deeply concerned by the alleged assault of two media practitioners at Tamil Malar’s office in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

As it stands, IoJ is still waiting for the authorities to complete their investigation into the allegations that political party members were behind the assault.

IoJ condemns any form of harassment on media practitioners. If the allegations are true, any form of assault towards media members should not be tolerated.

IoJ opposes the regulation of online media

The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJ) is concerned with the idea to register online news portals with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission.

The proposed regulation of online media is unnecessary and troubling, given the way former news portal The Malaysian Insider was arbitrarily blocked over an allegedly inaccurate news report.

We strongly oppose any form of official regulation of the press, especially if such measures are abused to suppress negative reports about the government of the day.

We instead call for an independent media council consisting of representatives from the various streams of media in Malaysia.

This council would ideally come up with industry guidelines as well as act as an ombudsman for complaints against the media.

We at the IoJ believe that in these difficult times, further regulation of online media may close many of them down, at a time when the public needs to be informed more than ever.