Statement by the Institute of Journalists Malaysia – Badan Wartawan Malaysia
The Institute of Journalists Malaysia, the professional body of journalists in Malaysia, expresses its serious concern over the arrest of Malaysiakini’s assistant editor Susan Loone under the Sedition Act in connection with a report she had written in the course of her professional duties.
We believe the arrest is unwarranted and that the report does not in any way amount to seditious material within the ordinary meaning of the words “to undermine authority”.
The facts available show that Susan Loone interviewed Penang state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh by telephone while he was in custody and filed her report. The accuracy of this report has not been denied either by the police or by Mr Phee, and Malaysiakini’s editor, Steven Gan, has stated that Malaysiakini stands by its story.
We believe it is within the right of all journalists to be allowed to carry out their duties professionally without hindrance by the authorities for political or other reasons, and without being subject to external pressures in the course of their duties.
We believe it is the right of all journalists to report fairly, accurately and impartially on all events of public interest.
We believe it is the right of all journalists and of all citizens to hold and express all shades of opinion.
We hold that the police action against Susan Loone and Malaysiakini is contrary to Malaysia’s acceptance of the principles of freedom of the press and freedom of expression.
We call on the Government, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Inspector-General of Police and the Chief Police Officer of Penang to halt all action against Susan Loone and Malaysiakini under the Sedition Act and for all charges already preferred or impending to be dropped.
We urge the Government of Malaysia to carry out its pledge to repeal the Sedition Act as part of its measures to enhance freedom of expression, and in view of this pledge to halt current use of the Act.
We urge the Government of Malaysia to uphold its pledge to repeal the Printing Presses and Publications Act to protect and enhance freedom of the press and freedom of expression.
We urge the Government of Malaysia to carry out its pledges to safeguard and protect journalists in the performance of their professional duties, especially from harrassment on political, racial or religious grounds.
September 5, 2014
Institute of Journalists Malaysia – Badan Wartawan Malaysia
supported by: members of the Institute of Journalists Malaysia; fellow journalists in Malaysia; friends and supporters of freedom of the press and freedom of expression