HAKAM Youth expresses solidarity with journalist Tashny Sukumaran who has been called for an investigation with the authorities after publishing an article dated 1 May 2020 on South China Morning Post (SCMP). The article, which reported the mass raids conducted on migrant workers and refugees in Malaysia amidst the COVID-19
pandemic, is alleged to have violated Section 504 of the Penal Code and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.
Claimed to be “offensive”, Ms. Tashny’s article is nothing short of facts. The recent raids on immigrants have attracted wide criticism for not adhering to social distancing measures despite the Movement Control Order (MCO) being in force. Hundreds of people including children were hauled up and taken away in trucks to overcrowded
detention centres, and this put them at a higher risk of getting infected and forming a new cluster. Ironically, the authorities later clarified that the Labour Day operation is necessary to curb the spreading of the virus by preventing undocumented migrants from travelling to other areas.
It is alarming that a journalist, who has been faithfully carrying out her duty, has evoked such a disproportionate response from the authorities. HAKAM Youth condemns the action taken by the authorities as the government at large was given room to respond and comment on the mass raids that have taken place at this inopportune time, before the article went into publication.
A move to silence those who disagree, the probe into the article is a threat to the press freedom of this nation as encapsulated under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. It also impedes the step forward in the enhancement of the freedom of expression and freedom of press, which has seen the nation being ranked 22 places forwards last
year in the latest World Press Freedom Index.
In conjunction with World Press Freedom Day, we could not emphasize more on the importance of having independent media in a democratic society. Journalism without fear or favour should be celebrated and respected, not silenced. HAKAM Youth therefore calls for the government to be transparent with its actions and the authorities
to reconsider the investigation against Ms. Tashny.
Members of HAKAM Youth
HAKAM Youth is a committee under HAKAM, the National Human Rights Society