Minister regrets Bernama host’s outburst over Al Jazeera programme

Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah says the government may not agree with the news channel’s report, but ‘we cannot call them such names’.

PETALING JAYA: The host of a Bernama TV talk show is believed to have been suspended by the news agency after using a derogatory Arabic term to describe Al Jazeera, FMT has been made to understand.

Attempts by FMT to get a confirmation from Bernama have been unsuccessful.

In a Twitter post, Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said he was informed by Bernama’s chairman that action has been taken against the host.

“We do not agree with the news channel’s report, but we cannot call them such names,” he added.

In its “Malaysia Petang Ini” programme aired on Monday, the host, Herleena Pahlavy, said Al Jazeera should rightly be renamed Al-Jahiliyah, the Arabic term for “ignorance”, which is usually used to refer to pagan Arabia.

She made the remarks when discussing the controversy over Al Jazeera’s report on Malaysia’s treatment of migrants during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I feel that Al Jazeera, or after this issue, as I can call it, Al Jahiliyah, does not have any basis or perhaps lacks ethics. If we google, they are involved in a lot of controversies and criticism,” she said at the end of the programme.

She then closed with this statement: “I am Leena Pahlavy. Al Jazeera, you shut up.”

Throughout the Bernama programme, the two hosts took potshots at Al Jazeera over its 101 East programme titled “Locked up in Malaysia’s Lockdown”.

They also questioned the station for de-activating comments on the programme’s YouTube, saying this was due to its fears about the power of Malaysian internet users.

Al Jazeera’s 25-minute episode, which focused on the authorities’ treatment of migrants under the movement control order (MCO) to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, has led to a sedition investigation by police into the Qatar-based news channel, as well as an immigration hunt for a Bangladeshi worker featured in the report.

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