Ensure press freedom, says PKR MP amid probe on Al Jazeera

Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil says the government should give an assurance it is not against the media and freedom of speech.

PETALING JAYA: PKR MP Fahmi Fadzil has called on Putrajaya to ensure media freedom remains in the midst of the police probe on Al Jazeera over a report on alleged ill-treatment of illegal immigrants during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said such action put pressure on the media and urged Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah to act immediately and give an assurance the government was not against the media and freedom of speech.

In a statement, the Lembah Pantai MP said the media needed to play an independent role although it did not mean it was free to publish fake news.

He said there should be a balance requiring the government to understand the functions of the media in monitoring the administration, and the people to evaluate information presented by the government and the media.

Earlier today, Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador said Al Jazeera would be investigated for sedition, among others.

This was followed by a statement by Bukit Aman CID director Huzir Mohamed, who said the satellite network would also be investigated for defamation and improper use of network facilities.

Huzir described the Al Jazeera report in a “101 East” programme on Friday, which alleged racism and unfair treatment of illegal immigrants in Malaysia’s fight against Covid-19, as baseless and one-sided.

Fahmi called on Putrajaya to discuss the matter with the media council “without compromising on public perception, including the international community, and without causing the media to become a ‘yes man'”.

He also said Saifuddin should meet with the media council representatives “as a sign of his own commitment towards media freedom”.

“Failure or refusal to meet the committee members means that he and the government are not committed to the principles of media freedom,” he said.

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