NUJ rejects ex-cop to head cop brutality inquiry
The NUJ, representing newspaper journalists, has rejected the choice of a former Inspector-General of Police to lead an inquiry into the many reports of targeted police assaults, use of violence and acts of intimidation against reporters and photographers on April 28.
Instead, the NUJ said former chief judge Steven Shim should be appointed as chairman of the inquiry.
In a statement on Thursday, the NUJ pointed out that “this is the first time in our history that a retired senior judge was reduced to being an ordinary member of a panel”.
The union pointed out that it was unseemly for Hanif Omar to lead an inquiry into the conduct of the force that he once led as national police chief from 1974 to 1994.
The NUJ also questioned Hanif’s impartiality, pointing to a remark he had made about the Bersih rally. He was reported to have supported claims that the gathering, to demand clean and fair elections, was an attempt to topple the Government.
The union said: “…the public would not be convinced of the panel’s finding as he himself was a former police chief and this would also discourage eye witnesses and victims from coming forward to give evidence.”
Journos beaten up, journos protest
More than a dozen journalists, mostly photographers, but also including reporters and an editor, have either filed police reports or have gone on record to say that they were assaulted, manhandled, harassed or intimidated while covering the mass public rally on April 28.
Photographic equipment was also damaged or confiscated, and data storage cards removed or erased under threat.
Almost all reports said the assaults were conducted by police and appeared to be targeted at journalists to stop coverage of police against against protestors at the rally.
Malaysian journalists have rallied to sign an online petition against the police violence on April 28, which has been signed by more than 300 members of the journalistic fraternity, as well as 2,400 other members of the public.
Journalists are preparing to submit the petition to the government next week.
The petition calls for the government to make a full public apology to all journalists for the violence reported on April 28; restitution of equipment; an independent public inquiry; and other measures to ensure safety of journalists and protection of their right to practise free, fair, impartial and accurate journalism.
Immediately after the events of April 28, several Malaysian editors and journalists issued a joint statement condemning the use of violence and intimidation against journalists.
Last week, on World Press Freedom Day, more than 80 journalists gathered at the National Press Club in Kuala Lumpur to discuss and endorse a proposal to form a professional association of journalists, to enhance professionalism, safeguard journalists’ professional interests and enhance press freedom.