Utusan staff jeer at Hata, call him ‘communist’
Utusan staff jeer at Hata’s protest picket
About 40 Utusan Malaysia staff jeered, with some shouting “communist”, when former journalists’ union president Hata Wahari held a one-man protest picket of his former newspaper this evening for its racial headlines and commentaries since the general election.
It is not known whether the group included any journalists.
An unidentified member of the group threw two packets of fried noodles towards Hata, and another member pulled away a banner that Hata held up, calling on the newspaper’s editors to respect journalistic ethics in their work.
Hata, a senior reporter, was sacked by Utusan two years ago while he was president of the journalists union NUJ for making comments about the workings of the newspaper, which is owned by Umno.
A platoon of about 60 policemen were at the scene when Hata held his picket at about 5pm. Utusan Malaysia had reported on Sunday that the Malay rights group Perkasa was planning a counter-demo at the same time. However, there was no one else there except Hata.
Hata told reporters earlier that he was protesting against Utusan for its racially-tinged editorial coverage.
Hata has pledged to conduct a “nasi lemak” protest, with his banner, outside Utusan Malaysia every year on his birthday, May 2, the eve of World Press Freedom Day. Today’s protest was held because May 2 was close to polling day. He said he came alone because he did not want to involve others in the current tense situation.
The Sun quoted him as saying: “I will continue protesting every year until there is a change in the paper’s direction towards upholding principles of ethical journalism.” He pointed out that the paper’s predecessor, Utusan Melayu, was a vocal critique of the government led by the nation’s founding father Tunku Abdul Rahman. » Former NUJ chairman heckled and booed
In 1961 Utusan Melayu journalists, led by Said Zahari, went on strike in protest against the paper’s takeover by Umno and the loss of editorial independence. Said Zahari was later detained under the Internal Security Act in Singapore for 17 years and banned from entry into Malaysia. The ban was lifted only in the 1980s.