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THE recent outrage over the arrest of the The Malaysian Insider 5 shows many have missed the point of the arrest.

PDRM’s actions in those arrests uphold the first principle in the Code of Ethics of the National Union of Journalists Malaysia (NUJ) which is:

  • Respect for truth and for the right of the public to truth is the first duty of journalists. To defend the freedom of the Press, to deal with the professional conduct of its members and to maintain high ethical standards in journalism.

The arrest has NOTHING to do with stifling freedom of speech or scaring journalists to toe the line with authorities.

The facts of the case are clear.

  1. On March 25, 2015, The Malaysian Insider carried an article “Council of Rulers opposes amendments needed to enforce hudud” (com/q6omek6), which was nothing but a spin as no such thing happened at the meeting.
  1. Based on a Bernama statement, The Star (tinyurl.com/q4sbcjz) reported Datuk Seri Syed Danial Syed Ahmad lodged a report at the Jalan Travers police station yesterday denying that a statement had been issued on the Conference of Rulers’ stand over the proposed implementation of hudud.
  1. PDRM has been very tolerant of TMI for just last week, TMI wrongly headlined the PM’s speech and erroneously reported the PM said the “Sedition Act is needed to curb terrorism” (tinyurl.com/pvswnrg). Despite a few attempts made by the Prime Minister’s Office to point out the error, TMI has NOT removed or corrected that report.
  1. The issue of that highly erroneous article on hudud is different. Action had to be taken because The Malaysian Insider:
  • reported an UNTRUTH and made it seem like it happened
  • refused to amend the article which is still in TMI even until today
  • the error is very serious because if it were perceived as truth, the possibility of a Malay uprising is there.
  • action was taken based on the police report lodged by the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal and not because of any other person/parties.
  1. The Malaysian Insider must take responsibility for its mischievous habit to spin DISINFORMATION, which is “false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately. It is an act of deception and false statements to convince someone of untruth. Unlike traditional propaganda techniques designed to engage emotional support, disinformation is designed to manipulate the audience at the rational level by either discrediting conflicting information or supporting false conclusions. A common disinformation tactic is to mix some truth and observation with false conclusions and lies, or to reveal part of the truth while presenting it as the whole (a limited hangout). (Wikipedia)
  1. It is inconceivable that NUJ and other press bodies do not seem to realise this and how TMI has outrageously flouted NUJ’s Code of Ethics. The role of such watchdog bodies should be to pressure fellow journalists to report the truth. They and other critics should not derail the whole scenario by accusing the government of victimising TMI.
  1. As it stands, the government has not acted as harshly but within the parameters of duty. Had this occurred in other authoritarian governments, the whole portal would have been closed down, owners fined and guilty ones immediately charged. The case of 16-year-old Amos Yee is a good example of how strict enforcement shows no mercy.
  1. Finally, the way lawyers, some lawmakers, journalists and ordinary citizens have taken umbrage to this development gives the absurd impression that journalists are ABOVE the law.

No one is above the law. You break the law, face the music.

What do you expect the government to do? Award these guilty ones with medals for spinning?

Be fair and look at the situation squarely and objectively!

DATUK HUAN CHENG GUAN

Head, Centre for Political Awareness

Kuala Lumpur

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