‘An attack against our right to know’
Statement by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
The NUJ of the Philippines protests the arrest of journalist Susan Loone of Malaysiakini and demand that the Malaysian police immediately drop its investigation of her and the respected independent news portal under the draconian Sedition Act.
Loone, Malaysiakini’s Penang-based assistant editor, was arrested over a report, ‘Exco man grilled for four hours, treated like a criminal,’ that she filed based on an interview with Penang executive councilor Phee Boon Poh on his arrest for allegedly leading an illegal “secret society.”
After the report was published, including a version in Bahasa, 14 NGOs calling themselves “The Coalition of Penang Malay Representatives,” lodged 10 reports against Loone and Malaysiakini asking that they be investigated for being “seditious” because it “intends to sow public hatred and anger against the police.”
It was on the basis of these obviously flimsy and frivolous complaints that Loone was arrested after she heeded an invitation to appear at the Northeast District police headquarters, although Malaysiakini said she was expected to be released on bail.
This, of course, is not the first time the esteemed Malaysian news portal and its staff have been harassed and threatened for their insistence on practicing independent journalism in the best tradition of the profession, something that oddly enough appears to be anathema to officials of a country that prides itself as a multi-ethnic democracy.
Then again, by either resorting to repressive laws that often date back to their colonial pasts or crafting new legislation that narrows the parameters of free expression and freedom of the press.
We have seen this most recently in Thailand and Myanmar, while in the Philippines, where the government has failed to stem media killings that have claimed the lives of 171 journalists since 1986, new laws are being crafted that threaten press freedom and free expression.
We have no doubt that Malaysiakini and Susan Loone will not be cowed by this blatant attempt to suppress their pursuit of independent journalism and call on the Malaysian journalism community to rally around them.
We call on our colleagues around the region to unite and vigorously oppose all attempts to prevent us from fulfilling our obligation to uphold our peoples’ right to know.
September 5, 2014
» National Union of Journalists Philippines