CALL FOR ACTION- A RALLY FOR FREE MEDIA

In light of the recent developments, as groups representing the journalistic profession, we the undersigned have collectively gathered as a coalition to condemn the Home Ministry’s decision to suspend The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily’s publishing permits for three months effective July 27.

We take the stand that there are existing legal recourses to be pursued in any dispute over reports, without resorting to an archaic law which has long been abused to clamp down on the media.

There may be ethical debates surrounding The Edge Media Group’s methods of obtaining information which led to an expose on the operations of state investment arm 1Malaysia Development Berhad, but this does not merit the government’s suspension orders.

Thus, we urge all media organisations, regardless of language or stream, to stand in solidarity against the government’s latest crackdown under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

The government has continued to use the PPPA to crack down on press freedom despite freeing the media being part of its promise of reforms made back in 2012.

Therefore, we invite our media colleagues and also the public to support us in a series of public solidarity events as follows:

1) Solidarity gathering at The Edge’s office on Friday, July 31, 3pm.
2) For all media members to stand in solidarity by signing in during press conferences with #AtTheEdge (instead of our names) – a tagline to be used for all ongoing campaigns, including our social media outreach.
3) And a major rally on Aug 8 with the participation of the public and civil society, to be held at a yet-to-be-finalised location in Kuala Lumpur.

Aside from these immediate actions, we also reiterate the call for the government to repeal the PPA, Official Secrets Act and Sedition Act – laws which have been abused to stifle freedom of press and expression in Malaysia.

While they are used in the name of protecting national security, we view that these laws are often enforced to protect the interests of certain parties.

We are also of the opinion that the ethical debate surrounding The Edge’s exposes on 1MDB highlights the need for media to be given fair access to information.

It is time to move from a regime of Official Secrets to one of Freedom of Information, whereby information should by default be a public right.

We demand a stop to political intervention in media affairs and that media access to information that is of interest to public is not hindered either by law or process.

To the media, this is an issue that should affect us all. We are all #AtTheEdge.

What has happened to The Edge is not something new and will not be the last, unless all of us collectively speak up against such acts.

The actions of the government is also a sign that it is unable to come to terms with contemporary rights of the public to information.

Free the media.

Gerakan Media Marah (Geramm), Institute of Journalists (IoJ), Reporter Sans Frontiers (RSF), Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Foreign Correspondents Club of Malaysia

Lift the suspensions of The Edge Malaysia and The Edge Financial Daily

The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJ) strongly urges the Malaysian Home Ministry (KDN) to lift the three-month suspension of the publishing permits of The Edge Malaysia business weekly and The Edge Financial Daily over their reports on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

IoJ also calls on the KDN to make public the reasons for the suspension in clear and precise terms, rather than a vague statement of content being “prejudicial or likely to be prejudicial to public order, security or likely to alarm public opinion or is likely to be prejudicial to public and national interest”.

The authorities must furnish strong evidence that the reports in question are based on false or inaccurate information. While IoJ understands there are ethical and legal concerns about how the information on which the reports are based was obtained, no Malaysian laws seem to have been broken and the source of the information should be less of a concern than its implications to the current administration.

The press plays a crucial role in holding public officials and bodies such as 1MDB to account, more so when there are serious allegations of corruption and financial mismanagement involving public funds.

IoJ takes the stand that the requirement for press licensing in Malaysia is counter-productive to the principle of reporting without fear or favour and reiterates its call for the Printing Presses and Publications Act to be abolished.

The IoJ stands behind Edge Media Group publisher and chief executive officer Ho Kay Tat; and all reporters, news workers, editors, and staff facing the consequences for doing their jobs.

We urge the public to stand with The Edge and all Malaysian media in exercising our right to free speech.

The Institute of Journalists Malaysia

IoJ denounces violent attacks on three journalists at Low Yat Plaza

The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJ) denounces the violent attacks on three journalists by a mob at Low Yat Plaza on July 12.

Sin Chew Daily crime desk reporter, Chan Woei Loon, as well as photojournalists Calvin Foong Yi Kian from Kwong Wah Yit Poh and Sam Kar Haur from China Press, were beaten up in the line of work while covering the event.

According to Chan’s account, he and Sam were beaten up and hit with helmets by between 20 and 30 people.

The IoJ reiterates that it is the professional duty of every journalist to record the news as a neutral observer. The journalist’s formal affiliation with the Malay, Chinese, Tamil, English or any other press is irrelevant to the discharge of his or her professional duties.

No journalist should be attacked on the basis of race or creed. The ideals of journalism and the role of the journalist in the public interest must always transcend race and creed.

The IoJ calls on the journalism fraternity in Malaysia to stand together in solidarity with their fellow professionals and to join us in denouncing the attacks on Chan Woei Loon, Calvin Foong Yi Kian and Sam Kar Haur.

The IoJ calls on the public to recognise and to support the work of all journalists who safeguard the public interest.

We urge the authorities to prosecute the attackers of the three journalists, as well as to ensure that justice is done and more importantly, that the media is always protected in the course of their duties.

The Institute of Journalists Malaysia

July 14, 2015

 

IoJ condemns arrests over The Malaysian Insider report

The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJ) is greatly disturbed by the arrests of Ho Kay Tat, Jahabar Sadiq, Lionel Andrew Morais, Amin Shah bin Iskandar and Zulkifli bin Sulong from The Malaysian Insider (TMI) over its report headlined “Council of Rulers opposes amendments needed to enforce hudud”.

If the report was inaccurate, the convention would be for the Conference of Rulers to issue a statement correcting it and for TMI to make an apology or to retract the article. The IoJ notes the report does not mention if TMI had approached the Conference of Rulers for verification. Journalistic diligence is required in reporting so that none is unfairly brought into public disrepute.

However, to arrest and to seek the remand of the journalists over the report under the Sedition Act 1948 and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 is a grossly disproportionate response to the report’s contents and tone, and an arbitrary use of the law. This is especially so because the journalists have made themselves readily available to assist in official investigations.

These arrests cast the country’s law enforcement agencies into public disrepute and erode their perceived legitimacy.

They come amid other arrests of reportedly more than 100 activists and politicians this month alone and create a climate of fear that prevents the practice of journalism without fear or favour, as newsrooms are already under pressure to practise self-censorship.

The IoJ also deeply regrets the pressure exerted on the law enforcement and regulatory authorities by the public statements of politicians on the TMI report.

The IoJ believes the Malaysian press holds itself to the same standards of transparency and accountability that it advocates for those in public office and understands that TMI would have welcomed the opportunity to publicly account for it.

The disproportionate enforcement action was a sorely missed opportunity to encourage a much-needed civil and informed conversation on the responsibility and role of the press as a public institution, especially in light of the recent divisiveness in the country.

We reiterate our call for the Sedition Act to be repealed and we urge the authorities to refrain from taking unnecessarily heavy-handed action against the press.

The Institute of Journalists Malaysia

IoJ condemns threats against BFM 89.9 journalist

The Institute of Journalists unreservedly condemns the threats of violence, murder and rape made against BFM 89.9 journalist Aisyah Tajudin on social media and any other platform.
The vicious threats made against her are not only an attack on the press, but also on freedom of speech.
The issue of hudud is an important one that should and will be discussed and debated by all Malaysians.
The IoJ urges the authorities to investigate the parties behind these threats, which are tantamount to criminal intimidation.
The Malaysian media must not be intimidated into silence on whatever issue that has a direct or indirect effect on society, especially from parties who have abandoned whatever dubious moral grounds that their comments were based on when they decided to threaten a woman with rape and murder under the guise of defending religious principles.

The Board, Institute of Journalists

Drop charges, stop action says IoJ

Institute of Journalists MalaysiaTHE RIGHT TO REPORT WITHOUT FEAR

• We believe it is within the right of all journalists to carry out their duties without hindrance for political or other reasons, and without external pressures.

• We believe it is the right of all journalists to report fairly, accurately and impartially on all events of public interest, and to hold and express all shades of opinion.

• We urge the Government to carry out its pledges to safeguard and protect journalists, especially from harassment on political, racial or religious grounds

Institute of Journalists Malaysia
Badan Wartawan Malaysia


The Institute of Journalists Malaysia, the professional body of journalists in Malaysia, expresses its serious concern over the arrest of Malaysiakini’s assistant editor Susan Loone under the Sedition Act in connection with a report she had written in the course of her professional duties.We believe the arrest is unwarranted and that the report does not in any way amount to seditious material within the ordinary meaning of the words “to undermine authority”.

The facts available show that Susan Loone interviewed Penang state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh by telephone while he was in custody and filed her report. The accuracy of this report has not been denied either by the police or by Mr Phee, and Malaysiakini’s editor, Steven Gan, has stated that Malaysiakini stands by its story.

We believe it is within the right of all journalists to be allowed to carry out their duties professionally without hindrance by the authorities for political or other reasons, and without being subject to external pressures in the course of their duties.

We believe it is the right of all journalists to report fairly, accurately and impartially on all events of public interest.

We believe it is the right of all journalists and of all citizens to hold and express all shades of opinion.

We hold that the police action against Susan Loone and Malaysiakini is contrary to Malaysia’s acceptance of the principles of freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

We call on the Government, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Inspector-General of Police and the Chief Police Officer of Penang to halt all action against Susan Loone and Malaysiakini under the Sedition Act and for all charges already preferred or impending to be dropped.

We urge the Government of Malaysia to carry out its pledge to repeal the Sedition Act as part of its measures to enhance freedom of expression, and in view of this pledge to halt current use of the Act.

We urge the Government of Malaysia to uphold its pledge to repeal the Printing Presses and Publications Act to protect and enhance freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

We urge the Government of Malaysia to carry out its pledges to safeguard and protect journalists in the performance of their professional duties, especially from harrassment on political, racial or religious grounds.

September 5, 2014
Institute of Journalists Malaysia – Badan Wartawan Malaysia
supported by: members of the Institute of Journalists Malaysia; fellow journalists in Malaysia; friends and supporters of freedom of the press and freedom of expression.