The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJ) strongly condemns the use of anti-terrorism laws against news portal Malaysiakini following allegations that they had received foreign funding to undermine the Government.
Malaysiakini’s editor-in-chief Steven Gan and Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed that the investigation is underway under Section 124C of the Penal Code.
Section 124C criminalises attempts commit an activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy, with a punishment of up to 15 years’ prison.
The use of anti-terrorism laws against a media company sets a disturbing precedent, and is a heavy handed method that can be seen as an attempt to silence dissent.
On the same note, the Institute also condemns Red Shirts movement leader Datuk Seri Jamal Yunos’ threat to hold a gathering outside the Malaysiakini offices if his queries on the portal’s funding source was not explained.
In particular, his statement that he would “ensure that part of this building will collapse” can be clearly interpreted as a threat and a form of intimidation against Malaysiakini.
Journalists must be allowed to do their work without facing threats, acts of violence or intimidation.
While the authorities have the right to conduct investigations, it is unacceptable to have other parties to use the opportunity to harass a media entity while the investigations are ongoing.
The IOJ stresses however receiving foreign funding is not tantamount to, and cannot be construed as a wrongdoing. Such speculations are unfair and undermines the due process.
Malaysiakini previously explained that a grant from American billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundation (OSF) was used to produce the Realiti Sarawak and Sekilas Bumi Kenyalang programmes by its video arm, KiniTV, and that the grant only constituted a small portion of its revenue.