‘Break the rice bowl’ press control

The story of Hata Wahari and Abdul Lufti Abdullah

I’ve been told many times before – by officials and supporters of the government – “to be grateful” – that in Malaysia, no Malaysian journalist has been killed or assassinated for carrying out his or her duties the way they see right. Unlike in other countries, I was reminded.

True. But just as in other things, we have our own way of doing things. For example, we know of journalists, in particular editors, getting the boot for not doing things to the “liking” of the ‘political masters”. Or whenever there’s a so-called “regime change”.

Yes – many a time the editors concerned were given “compensation” in Ringgit and Sen. But most of the time they find themselves “blacklisted” (or at the very least facing difficulties) when seeking reemployment elsewhere. To me, while they are alive and “well” – it’s their career that got “assassinated.”

Hata Wahari continues campaign to expose Utusan policy

Hata Wahari continues campaign to expose Utusan policy

Moving on to Hata Wahari. Remember him? The Utusan Malaysia journalist who was sacked by the Umno-owed newspaper in May 2010? Axed for his critical comments on the editorial policy of the paper.

He has taken the matter to the industrial court and come June, his case will come up again. In the meantime, says Hata, he’s “not encouraged” by his lawyers to “work in the media.”

Says Hata: “After the court case, maybe I’ll try to get a job in media houses. That is, if people still want me.”

So how has he and his family been surviving since losing his job as a full-time journalist?

“I’ve been doing sales – selling women’s clothes to boutiques in Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan”, he says. Apparently Hata has a diploma in fashion design.