Freebies for journos – integrity on the line

Pushing the envelope of ethical journalism?

By BOB TEOH
Malaysiakini

The way expensive gifts were thrown at journalists at the Premier Media Night on Thursday borders on ‘envelope’ journalism, yet Prime Minister Najib Razak who was in attendance has the gall to tell journalists how to do their job while the expensive gifts were dished out.

The golden cow consists of lucky draws for a brand new Peugeot 408 costing over RM100,000 on-the-road. Other freebies include bicycles and motorcycles, plus electronics such as two iPhone 6 (64 gigabyte) smartphones, Samsung Tab 4 tablets, and Samsung LED televisions of various sizes up to 75 inches, as well as a goodie bag for each guest consisting of an umbrella, crackers, a mug, a notepad, a flashlight, and a book on Islamic inheritance.

Najib Razak very taken up by the top prize of a Peugeot 408 at the Premier Media night.

Najib Razak very taken up by the top prize of a Peugeot 408 at the Premier Media night.

Altogether there were more than 600 prizes up for grabs last night for the gala attended by about 1,000 media practitioners, bloggers, civil servants, ministers, and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor. However, journalists from independent news portals like Malaysiakini were not invited.

I suspect there were not more than 300 working journos that night, the rest were made up by civil servants, bloggers, PR practitioners and hangers-on. The whole gala media night could cost over RM300,000 including the banquet and lucky draws. That works out to be RM1,000 per journo.

Well, that’s close to what is known as envelope journalism. It doesn’t matter if the gifts were sponsored, they still probably fall into the category of envelope journalism. It’s a different thing altogether when one bought a ticket to attend a charity or gala event and won a lucky draw. That is clear.

The envelope journalism phenomenon was virtually unknown among local journalists once upon a time but was a common practice in neighbouring countries where journalists are usually given an envelope stashed with cash for covering a press conference or interview. The one who takes the envelope understands that this entails a good write-up of a cover-up of some bad news or both. Continue reading

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Penang journos stand in solidarity

Memorandum to Datuk Wira Abdul Rahim Hanafi, Penang Chief Police Officer

Penang Press Club, Pertubuhan Wartawan dan Jurugambar Media Cina Pulau Pinang (Pewaju), Persatuan Wartawan-wartawan Seberang Perai, Penang Press Employees’ Cooperative Society Ltd and the Journalists Union of North Malaya are declaring our solidarity with fellow journalist Susan Loone who was arrested by the Penang police for carrying out her duties and responsibilities assigned to her by her employer Malaysiakini, and urge the police to drop all charges against her immediately.

Uphold justice,
stop heavy-handed
politicians

The action against Susan Loone can only be construed as overzealous and political victimisation.

Any form of political victimisation and demands on reporters to take certain lines in their stories goes against the fundamental role that the public demands of our profession…

Journalists play a critical public interest role and to criminalise the work we do is unacceptable.

Memo from Journalists
of northern Malaysia


We invite every believer in free journalism to show their solidarity and support members of the Press, especially Susan Loone, and urge the Penang police to provide a safe environment for journalists and photographers to carry out its responsibilities without fear or favour.

The use of the Sedition Act against Susan Loone for a phone interview conducted with Penang state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh can only be construed as overzealous and political victimisation. Any form of political victimisation and demands on reporters to take certain lines in their stories goes against the fundamental role that the public demands of our profession.

This is the second time in recent years that our fellow reporter has been victimised for straightforward reporting.In 2008, Penang-based Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng was arrested under the draconian Internal Security Act for simply reporting remarks made by a politician. Continue reading

Henti tindakan, gugur dakwaan – IoJ

Badan Wartawan Malaysia – Institute of Journalists Malaysia
5hb September 2014
Badan Wartawan Malaysia (Institute of Journalists Malaysia), sebuah badan profesional wartawan di Malaysia, menyuarakan kebimbangan serius susulan penahanan penolong pengarang Malaysiakini Susan Loone dibawah Akta Hasutan 1948 berkaitan sebuah laporan berita yang ditulis dalam menjalankan tugas sebagai wartawan.

Institute of Journalists Malaysia

Hak semua
wartawan:
bertugas tanpa
gangguan
dan tekanan

IoJ percaya bahawa adalah merupakan hak semua wartawan…

• bertugas secara profesional tanpa gangguan dan tekanan dari pihak berkuasa atau mana-mana pihak ketiga

• melaporkan semua berita serta untuk mengetengahkan pelbagai spektrum pendapat.

• kerajaan harus memenuhi janji untuk melindungi hak wartawan dalam menjalankan tugas, terutama dari sebarang bentuk gangguan atas dasar politik, perkauman atau agama

Badan Wartawan Malaysia – Institute of Journalists Malaysia


Kami percaya penahanan tersebut adalah tidak berasas dan laporan yang ditulis juga tidak dalam apa-apa bentuk berunsur hasutan, berdasarkan pengertian lazim “merendahkan pihak berkuasa”

Berdasarkan maklumat berkaitan, ahli majlis kerajaan negeri Pulau Pinang telah ditemuramah oleh Susan Loone melalui panggilan telefon semasa beliau berada didalam tahanan polis dan kemudian dilaporkan oleh Malaysiakini.

Kesahihan laporan tersebut tidak pernah dipertikaikan oleh pihak polis atau Phee, sementara ketua pengarang Malaysiakini Steven Gan telah menegaskan bahawa portal berita itu mempertahankan laporan mereka.

IoJ percaya bahawa adalah merupakan hak semua wartawan untuk dibenarkan menjalankan tugas mereka secara profesional tanpa gangguan dan tekanan dari pihak berkuasa atau mana-mana pihak ketiga, samaada bermotifkan politik atau untuk sebab-sebab lain.

IoJ percaya bahawa adalah merupakan hak semua wartawan di Malaysia untuk melaporkan semua berita untuk kepentingan umum secara seimbang, tepat dan tidak berpihak, serta untuk mengetengahkan pelbagai spektrum pendapat.

Kami berpegang dengan pendapat bahawa tindakan pihak polis keatas Susan Loone dan Malaysiakini adalah merupakan satu bentuk penghinaan kepada penerimaan prinsip kebebasan media dan kebebasan bersuara di Malaysia.

Kami menyeru pihak kerajaan, Kementerian Dalam Negeri, Ketua Polis Negara dan Ketua Polis Pulau Pinang supaya menghentikan tindakan dibawah Akta Hasutan keatas Susan Loone dan Malaysiakini secara khususnya serta keatas rakyat Malaysia secara umumnya, termasuk menggugurkan semua proses dakwaan yang sedang berjalan.

Kami menggesa kerajaan Malaysia untuk memenuhi janji memansuhkan Akta Hasutan sebagai langkah untuk mengukuhkan kebebasan bersuara dan seiring dengan itu menghentikan semua tindakan dibawah Akta ini.

Kami turut menggesa pihak kerajaan supaya memansuhkan Akta Penerbitan dan Mesin Cetak 1984 bagi melindungi dan menjamin kebebasan media serta kebebasan bersuara.

Selain itu, kerajaan juga bukan sahaja harus memenuhi janji untuk melindungi hak wartawan dalam menjalankan tugas, terutama dari sebarang bentuk gangguan atas dasar politik, perkauman atau agama.

TERTANDA
Ahli Badan Wartawan Malaysia; Pengamal media Malaysia; Penyokong kebebasan media dan kebebasan bersuara

Drop the charges, stop swoop says IoJ

Statement by the Institute of Journalists Malaysia – Badan Wartawan Malaysia

Institute of Journalists Malaysia

THE RIGHT
TO REPORT
WITHOUT FEAR

• We believe it is within the right of all journalists to carry out their duties without hindrance for political or other reasons, and without external pressures.

• We believe it is the right of all journalists to report fairly, accurately and impartially on all events of public interest, and to hold and express all shades of opinion.

• We urge the Government to carry out its pledges to safeguard and protect journalists, especially from harrassment on political, racial or religious grounds

Institute of Journalists Malaysia — Badan
Wartawan Malaysia

OTHER VOICES

» Apologise to Susan
says journalists union

» An attack on our
right to know – NUJP

» They want to intimidate journalists – Geramm

» Free speech under attack – international jurists


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

Apologise to Susan, says NUJ

Statement by National Union of Journalists Malaysia

The National Union of Journalists Peninsular Malaysia (NUJ) strongly condemns the inquiry by the police to investigate Malaysiakini reporter Susan Loone under Section 4 (1)(C) of the Sedition Act 1948.

Susan was merely doing her job as a reporter when she was arrested after being questioned over her phone interview with an exco of the Penang State Government, in which he was quoted as saying that he had been “treated like a criminal” while in detention. Her article was published on the news portal on September 1, allegedly defaming the police.

AN ATTEMPT
TO INTIMIDATE
AND INTERFERE

the Police should issue an apology to [Susan Loone] for the trauma and inconveniences caused on her and her family… The union believes the police, by invoking the Sedition Act to investigate a journalist is regarded as a means to intimidate and interfere with press freedom.
NUJ MALAYSIA

This action does not augur well for the Government’s promise to allow the Malaysian media to operate freely and without fear of their reporters being detained under questionable reasoning.

Even though the Police has the right to question anyone through complaints made by certain NGOs, we however strongly feel that the Sedition Act had been wrongly applied on Susan’s case and that the Police should issue an apology to her for the trauma and inconveniences caused on her and her family.

To abuse relevant Act by intimidating the media had never been accepted by the local media nor been supported by the general public. Continue reading

‘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.

Flimsy and
frivolous
complaints: NUJP

It was on the basis of these obviously flimsy and frivolous complaints that Loone was arrested… this latest attempt to intimidate Malaysiakini and its journalists appears to be part and parcel of an alarming tendency among Southeast Asian governments to stifle independent journalism
NUJ PHILIPPINES

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.
Continue reading

Geramm condemns arrest of Susan Loone

Press statement by Gerakan Media Marah

Gerakan Media Marah (GERAMM) strongly condemns the arrest of Malaysiakini journalist Susan Loone under the Sedition Act 1948 as it goes against the basic right to freedom of the press.

The arrest by authorities is unwarranted as the journalist is only reporting based on an interview with an individual.

Any mistake in the report can be corrected or addressed through exercising the aggrieved party’s right of reply.

The arrest, on the other hand, is seen as an attempt at intimidating journalists who are merely doing their jobs.
Continue reading

IoJ: Drop charges, halt sedition action

Statement by the Institute of Journalists Malaysia – Badan Wartawan Malaysia

Institute of Journalists MalaysiaThe 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 RIGHT
TO REPORT
WITHOUT FEAR

• We believe it is within the right of all journalists to carry out their duties without hindrance for political or other reasons, without external pressures

• 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.
Institute of Journalists Malaysia

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 Malaysiaki 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. Continue reading

Perkasa and friends attack Mkini journo

Malaysiakini interviews exco manRakyat Post gloats about attack on Mkini

Penang’s ultra-Malay rightists groups, viewed as subcontractors to Umno, have launched another attack on Malaysiakini and its Penang assistant editor — surprisingly played up by the Rakyat Post last night — for what they claim to be another one of the so-called famous Malaysian “insults”, this time apparently insulting the police.

The rightist mob accuse Malaysiakini and reporter Susan Loone of defaming the police by creating a negative image of the force in an interview with a state executive councillor who was one of those arrested in connection with PPS, the state-run volunteer patrol unit.

More astonishingly, the groups’ spokesman was quoted by Rakyat Post as saying they are willing to engage a lawyer to sue Malaysiakini and Susan — on behalf of the police

Has the police force sunk so low to the depths of depravity that they now depend on a bunch of bottom-feeding publicity-seekers to “defend” them? Continue reading

Pixman’s assault: what really happened?

Family members tell of hounding by NST, local media

From a Facebook posting by a family member of the MH17 passengers:
Singling NST though for a moment, do you know repeatedly they have approached many family members (including a young female family members) over the last 1 month or so, to talk about gruesome things such as asking for confirmation on dead infants pics posted online, conditions of body, have they viewed the body parts/remains and the classic ‘how do you feel about this?’ Maybe you should ask Aliza Shah from NST about this. She even mentioned that the bosses were urging her to continuously ask about all this. But, NST is not the only one- other local media were continuously bugging them with downright harrowing and traumatic questions even when they were told not to disturb any family members.

Before you comment on being uncivilized, ask yourself how come the international press were gracious enough to actually listen and not ask stupid questions, but not the local ? Where’s their ethics and professionalism ?
» The posting at Facebook
Updated at 09:30 Wed 3 Sep

Rights and wrong
The press at bay

  • Everyone has a right to privacy
  • Everyone has a right to ask to be left alone
  • We have a right to report on matters of public interest
  • We have certain rights to report on some public matters
  • We only have the privilege to report on other matters
  • ‘Public interest’ does not mean simply anything that the public are interested in
  • We do not have a right to intrude into other people’s lives
  • The public’s interest in gossip and other people’s lives does not over-ride anyone’s rights to privacy
  • The public might expect us to cover everything: this does not give us the right to do so
  • Death and grief, like birthdays, weddings, and other personal matters, are private
  • Our desire for a story, our need to meet deadlines, or our need to please our editor, does not give us the right to trample upon other people’s rights and other people’s lives.
  • We have a right to tell the truth
  • We do not have the right to lie

What actually happened at Nirvana funeral parlour in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, when a punch was thrown at a press photographer? Three journalist groups have come out in support of the NST photographer, with the press photographers’ association demanding vengeance. But in standing up for their fellow journalist they ignored a basic factor: the truth, and a full story.

The press photographers’ association called for swift police action against the family member of an MH17 passenger who punched the photographer; an activist group of mainly online journalists, centred on Malaysiakini, condemned the attack and asked the public to show appreciation of the difficulties faced by journalists on the job; the National Union of Journalists offered legal aid to the NST photographer. Even the inspector-general of police chimed in, urging the public to show tolerance for the press on duty.

Photos of the NST photographer’s bloodied face were posted at the Friends of Barisan Nasional page on Facebook.

But why was the press at Nirvana? Had they been invited? Did they ignore family requests for privacy? Did the press ignore a government request to respect the families’ privacy? Why did the family member suddenly attack a photographer? Why this one out of so many press people at the funeral? Why was there trouble in Nirvana?

Yesterday evening the family member concerned was reported in the Star to have said that the family had requested several times that the press not take photos.

Several reporters discussing the matter on Facebook in the afternoon had been told that family members had been heard calling out “No Press, No Photographs”. One reporter said the family had tried to keep the door closed to the press, but everyone had barged in anyway. The Star reported the family as saying they had requested privacy, but were surprised that MAS and the Nirvana funeral parlour had released funeral details to the press, giving the press the impression they were invited. Continue reading