APRIL 29 — The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJ) is deeply concerned over the Royal Malaysian Police’s (PDRM) continued use of the Sedition Act 1948 to investigate journalists for writing news reports.
The police have called in The Heat Malaysia journalist Zakiah Koya for questioning under the Act today following an article she wrote about the Citizens’ Declaration early last month.
Zakiah is being investigated for her report, “Ousting Najib by all means”, which was based on a press conference held by several prominent political leaders on March 4 this year.
We strongly condemn the use of the Sedition Act against any journalist in the line of duty.
It is the duty of a journalist to record current affairs in the country, by writing news reports or even analysis or comment pieces based on observations of and comments by public figures.
Recent actions by the police reflect an inability to recognise the role media plays in a democracy, and stands to further hurt our press freedom standards.
Just days earlier, Malaysiakini reporter Kow Gah Chie was investigated under Section 505 (centre) of the Penal Code for causing public mischief by allegedly writing an inaccurate news report.
Previously, Malaysiakini journalist Susan Loone, and five journalists from The Malaysian Insider were also arrested under the Sedition Act because police reports were lodged over their news reports.
We urge the police and the government to immediately drop all these investigations against journalists.
There are many other measures — such as seeking a clarification from the media outlet and civil litigation suits — that could be used in the event of allegedly inaccurate or defamatory news reports.
Using criminal laws against journalists for doing their jobs is not a solution, and could be perceived as Malaysia’s authorities taking an oppressive turn.