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Media witchhunt continues: now it’s Tong

Sat 2015-Apr-18 @ MYT 09:00:04 am

• Najib’s administration shows its vindictiveness
• 1MDB being treated as ‘sacred cow’
• Media under attack for doing their job
• Police treating journalists as criminals

A tax investigation has reportedly begun against Tong Kooi Ong, owner of the Edge media group, in what may clearly be regarded as part of a political witchhunt against media criticism and exposure of the government-owned and financially troubled 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

The investigation, reported by Malaysiakini yesterday, comes weeks after three editors of Malaysian Insider, its chief executive, and its publisher were arrested under the Sedition Act and held overnight in a police lockup.

Malaysiakini says the Inland Revenue is investigating Tong Kooi Ong

Malaysiakini says the Inland Revenue is investigating Tong Kooi Ong

Their arrests came half a year after Malaysiakini reporter Susan Loone was arrested in Penang, also under the Sedition Act, in what was clearly an act of vindictive harrassment by Umno politicians and the police.

The six are the first media people to face action under the Sedition Act since 1972 when Utusan Malaysia’s editor-in-chief and a subeditor were arrested and put on trial in a “test case” for a headline calling for the abolition of Chinese-medium schools, then considered an inflammatory topic and a so-called “sensitive issue”.

Plain vindictive harrassment

There is no rational basis for the current actions, except that of vindictive harrassment. None of the six have advocated the violent overthrow of the ruling government or the Yang di-Pertuan Agong: an action that would fall under the classical definition of sedition; even the British, who devised the law to protect their monarchy, have thrown it out.

None of the six had written about any topic that could be seen to have inflamed racial or religious tensions. They merely did their jobs as journalists, trying to keep the public informed.

Susan Loone, released after a full day's questioning. [Photo: Kwong Wah]

Susan Loone, released after a full day’s questioning. [Photo: Kwong Wah]

Susan Loone’s report had quoted a politician as saying he had been treated like a criminal, and the Penang police took exception. She and Malaysakini have long been reviled by Umno and their henchmen in Penang for their coverage, as with other online media, of the DAP and its administration of the Penang government.

If her story was wrong, the police and the politician involved could have denied it, and asked Malaysiakini for a retraction.

Lionel Morais, Amin Iskandar and Zulkifli Sulong had collectively published a report about what they were informed was a decision by the Rulers’ Conference which was subsequently denied. Jahabar Sadiq and Ho Kay Tat have executive reponsibilities over the Insider but did not directly handle the Rulers’ Conference story.

How low will Khairy go?

If the story was wrong, the office of the Rulers’ Conference could have denied it and asked for a retraction. But a police report was made instead — and Khairy Jamaluddin of Umno Youth, ambitious beyond his years, was quick to egg on the police. How low can an Oxford grad stoop?

Besides the Rulers’ Conference story, the Insider and the Edge have produced extensive coverage of the finances and management of 1MDB funds, amounting to billions that belong to the people. The company has RM42bn of debts. There are questions about how the money was used and where it went.

These are valid concerns of all the people, and it is the duty of the professional journalist to find out about current events and keep the people informed. That was what all six did.

Insider editors detained in the police lockup

Insider editors detained in the police lockup

For that they were arrested, and the five handcuffed, fingerprinted, thrown into the lockup overnight, and an attempt sought to further remand the Insider trio — sensibly denied by a magistrate who could not see the need to continue to lock up three journalists.

There is no justification for the police action against the six journalists under the Sedition Act. None. There is no justification for the police to clearly want to humiliate the Insider five through arrest and detention.

» SEE: Treating journos like terrorists

Journalism is not a crime, but the Royal Malaysia Police have now made it plain and simple — reporting the news has become a criminal offence. And it appears that Khairy Jamaluddin and other such so-called personalities will do everything they can to instigate the police.

All this is in addition to the police having already beaten up 14 journalists in 2012, for which no one has accepted responsibility and for which no one has been charged.

Police targeted media, says Suhakam

The tax investigation of Tong Kooi Ong, owner of the Edge-Insider group, falls into this pattern of vindictive punitive action. After the 1MDB issue blew up in public, an anonymous blog — like many of Umno’s paid cybertroopers — launched a smear campaign to vilify Tong as having forced down the value of the ringgit through foreign exchange manipulations — against all prevailing views that the collapse of the ringgit has to do with the falling price of crude oil, as well as the weakness of the Malaysian economy.

1MDB has clearly become a sacred cow not to be questioned by anyone, not even journalists, whose professional duty is to question and to inform. Just as clearly the police seem willing to be stooges of the Najib administration in protecting the sacred cow.

A police force of guttersnipes

At the same time, the police, in Susan Loone’s case as with the Bersih 14, appear to have placed themselves and their actions as beyond question, through their willingness to use physical violence and now the Sedition Act supposedly to protect their so-called “image”.

The only image that results from all these actions — notwithstanding the fact that all the six have said that the individual policemen treated them well — is that the Royal Malaysia Police as a whole have no interest in justice or the people’s concerns, but are willing to be a brutal, vindictive, goon squad without qualms about protecting those in power. By these actions the force has become a disgrace to a citizenry yearning for justice, and a disgrace to the “royal” that forms part of their name. Having descended into the gutter, they have taken the word “royal” along with them.

How much lower will they stoop?

Down with IGP Khalid, D5 and PDRM

Did councillor pay to free reporter’s car?

Fri 2015-Apr-17 @ MYT 10:50:32 am

• Money and favours: press ethics at stake
• In Penang, a question of possible corruption
• Did councillor get anything in return?


File photo: Council staff issuing a parking summons

File photo: Council staff issuing a parking summons


Disturbing questions arise from a letter to Malaysiakini published last night, a condensed version of which is below. A law lecturer says a Penang councillor paid the fee to release a reporter’s car that had been impounded for a parking offence. He heard about it from the reporter’s Facebook (the posting has since been deleted, I’m told).

If the incident is true, it was stupid of the reporter to have asked a politician for a favour that involves fines, compounded fines, or money. It was stupid of the politician to have done so.

The exchange of money, in cash or kind, in return for favours is probably best described as corruption, but whether it is an offence in law has to be determined.

But the fact that this account has surfaced puts the whole journalism community on the spot, and not only in Penang.

What will journalists do about this?

Issue a statement? Pretend it never happened? Ask for a favour to cover it up?

Freedom of the press is under attack not just by policemen using the law to jail journalists, but by the actions of journalists themselves when they exchange favours or trade information.

Will journalists themselves do anything about this?

The letter to Malaysiakini (condensed) is below.

Read more…

A distasteful time at Hameediyah’s

Wed 2015-Apr-15 @ MYT 18:56:51 pm

An early briyani dinner at an old favourite turned into something quite distasteful on Monday evening. Hameediyah was fairly quiet at about 7pm, just one person at the table downstairs and one couple upstairs: there is a different feel to the place nowadays, with kitchen and serving crew almost all foreign workers, many of them recent arrivals.

Closing the chapter on half a century of patronage They seemed to be different from the crew present when the restaurant reopened just before Hari Raya last year.

The Nepali boy upstairs brought a teh ais, following up with two chicken briyanis from the dumb waiter, then seemed a little confused when asked to pour away some of the too-milky tea and top it off afresh, to lessen the awful sweetness. After a little explaining, he said in English, “You want less sugar?” He clattered away downstairs, reappearing with a full glass. It was a little less awful but had been watered down.

A slim Tamil-speaker came clattering up the stairs, exchanged sentences in Hindi with the Nepali, then shouted noisily in Tamil down the stairwell to someone below.

The sudden clamour almost brought back some of the atmosphere of the plain old noisy Hameediyah, but only for a moment, as we tucked in: the chicken briyani was up to the usual standards but the dalcha in a combined serving was hardly enough for two, though the requisite potatoes and brinjals rose above the waterline. The timun, though, had a little extra “kick” from the chilli-vinegar sauce.

The couple behind us moved off, another couple took a nearby table, ordering roti telur and a pair of men noisily took the long table by the window to await their friends. Read more…

Dead: a journalist who feared becoming a statistic

Wed 2015-Apr-15 @ MYT 13:32:37 pm

Tribute to a journalist who feared becoming another statistic

Melinda “Mei” Magsino, former correspondent of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, shot dead in the street with a single gunshot while walking to buy a fan for her home on Monday.
She had linked a powerful governor to illegal gambling and the fatal ambush of the resident Ombudsman for the province whom she was about to interview, was declared persona non grata by provincial mayors, and sent text warnings that two released murderers had orders to kill her. She immediately fled into the night.

Melinda “Mei” Magsino [Photo: Facebook account]

Raul C. Pangalangan
Philippine Daily Inquirer

We in the Philippines may have become accustomed to news of journalists being harassed, attacked or killed, but the murder of Melinda “Mei” Magsino, 40, on Monday brings the tragedy close to home for the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Mei is the very first victim who was once an Inquirer correspondent.

Filipino journalists know the extreme hazards of their trade, and Mei Magsino, 40, was no stranger to death threats.

In 2005, Mei was an Inquirer correspondent who linked a powerful governor to illegal gambling and the fatal ambush of the resident Ombudsman for the province whom she was about to interview about his investigation of the governor. Read more…

Najib’s steamroller

Wed 2015-Apr-8 @ MYT 17:45:11 pm

How anti-terror law will work

Courtesy of Zunar -

Courtesy of Zunar –

Zunar arrested again over satirical Najib image

Fri 2015-Apr-3 @ MYT 15:08:05 pm

Zunar at the court this morning. His lawyer Latheefa Koya is at left [Malaysiakini photo]

Cartoonist Zunar was arrested again today, half an hour after he had been charged and posted bail of RM2,500 each on nine sedition charges.

He faces a maximum of five years’ jail on each charge if found guilty.

Details of the new alleged offence were not available, but it is believed to be about a posting on Facebook. His lawyer, Latheefa Koya, said it was about an image of Najib Razak’s face superimposed on the body of PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli in a purple police lockup robe.

Rafizi was recently arrested and detained in Jinjang lockup over the Kita Lawan street protest rallies held in Kuala Lumpur city centre every Saturday.

Latheefa told Malaysian Insider that the image had been posted on a fan page, over which Zunar had no control. “Malaysia has 15 million Facebook users, if someone post something on my wall, how would I know?” he had said after posting bail, Malaysiakini reported.

Zunar was taken to Dang Wangi station for investigations. He was allowed half an hour for lunch before being taken away. He was not handcuffed, Malaysiakini said.

Zainol Samah of Dang Wangi police told Malaysiakini that he did not have details about Zunar’s arrest as yet.

» Malaysiakini report | » Malaysian Insider report

How Malaysian journalism works – by Zunar

Fri 2015-Apr-3 @ MYT 10:24:37 am
Zunar faces nine charges under the Sediton Act for nine Twitter postings about the Federal Court decision in the Anwar Ibrahim case.

Zunar faces nine charges under the Sediton Act for nine Twitter postings about the Federal Court decision in the Anwar Ibrahim case.

Zunar to face 9 sedition charges, needs bail money


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