PETALING JAYA: Freelance journalist Jules Rahman Ong said he will not agree to “settle” his case with the Kelantan forestry department for allegedly entering the forest without a permit.
“We would not want to settle because if we do admit, then it gives the right to the state government to curtail our rights.
“As journalists, we are doing our jobs in reporting the facts,” he said, referring to him and cameraman Too Chee Hung.
Ong and Too were arrested on Jan 24 by the state forestry department for filming the authorities dismantling an Orang Asli blockade in Gua Musang, Kelantan.
Both of them were later released on bail.
They also claimed forestry department officials had intimidated them by shouting and confiscating their equipment when they were arrested.
He said they were persuaded by one of the officials to “settle their case out of court” when they returned to the department to report themselves, two days ago.
“The officer told us he had yet to send the investigation papers to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
“He gave us an offer, that is, for us to admit to the offence under Section 47(1) of the National Forestry Act and pay a fine,” Ong said, adding that he did not respond to the officer’s suggestion.
“We will wait for the AGC’s decision,” he said.
Ong also said he has to be mentally and financially prepared should the attorney-general decide to proceed with the charges proposed by the forestry department.
“Telling the truth is a dangerous business in Malaysia,” he said.
Ong said the documentary on the Orang Asli, entitled “Get Real: Fighting for My Home” will be premiering tomorrow night (Feb 28) on Channel NewsAsia (CNA).