Journalist blasts Mat Sabu’s press team over snub to independent media

Amanah president and Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: A seasoned journalist has criticised Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders for ignoring the media which once gave them coverage when they were in the opposition camp, and who are now “basking in the spotlight” of coverage from television as well as other big media outlets which once snubbed them.

Writing on Facebook, the Penang-based reporter who has been reporting for a news portal for close to two decades, singled out Amanah president Mohamad Sabu for ignoring independent journalists since his appointment as defence minister, and accused his media team of practising favouritism.

“Mat Sabu may be a great guy and all, but he has a lousy press team who invited only the government-linked broadcasting station and a certain portal deemed to be pro-Pakatan Harapan. To me, this is totally unprofessional,” she wrote in a Facebook post last night which has since been taken down.

She said during the Hari Raya season, she had hoped to ask Mat Sabu questions related to defence, but had discovered that she was not even invited to the minister’s recent open house.

“Just got to know it when I watched it on TV. I felt really disappointed because I had questions for him as defence minister,” she said, adding that she had covered the once-vocal opposition politician at a time when he was struggling for media coverage.

“Well, now he is minister, he has probably forgotten everyone in his past who made it possible for him to be where he is today,” she said.

She did not spare Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, now the deputy prime minister, or her husband Anwar Ibrahim either, for their unfriendly behaviour towards independent media during their Hari Raya open house in Penang, where their bodyguards shoved and barred journalists from carrying out their duty.

The PKR couple were also refusing to take questions, she added.

“Anwar did allow me one question and his wife replied ‘ditto’ when I asked her for her response as well. Only one Q! How about the other reporters?

“To think that before he went to jail, I spent most of my weekends covering his events.

“Never mind that their daughter Nurul Izzah is supposedly a defender of press freedom.”

Other journalists from two top online news portals echoed her complaint, saying they too were given the run-around when they attempted to get reactions from ministers and PH leaders over government policies.

But their biggest complaint was reserved for Mat Sabu, whom they said no longer answered WhatsApp messages “let alone our calls”.

“Mat Sabu has become a social media icon for his catapult into a senior government post. But not for long, thanks to the person managing his relationship with the press, especially with the leading independent news sites,” said one reporter who covered Mat Sabu extensively during the general election campaign two months ago.

Another said all messages to Mat Sabu’s WhatsApp “were read and blue-ticked, without acknowledgement”.

“There are pending defence-related issues to ask him about. Sadly, the main man is mute. We are no longer interested in his simple terrace house or his meals with soldiers. We are in the serious business of journalism,” the journalist said.

A similar complaint about the new government’s media policy was raised earlier this week, when the Prime Minister’s Department only allowed national news agency Bernama, Media Prima-owned TV3 and state broadcaster Radio Televisyen Malaysia to cover a meeting between Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Chinese tycoon Jack Ma.