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Al Jazeera Defends Documentary Filmed During Lockdown in Malaysia

Al Jazeera Defends Documentary Filmed During Lockdown in Malaysia

Anne Dorall

Al Jazeera has rejected allegations made by Malaysian authorities over the investigative documentary, instead saying that the report is a fair and impartial journalistic work. They also express grave concern over the Malaysian response, saying that their staff in Malaysia have faced online abuse and death threats.

What you need to know: The documentary Locked Up In Malaysia’s Lockdown was released on July 3, documenting the plight of thousands of undocumented migrant workers arrested during raids in areas under tight lockdowns.

Malaysian authority were less than pleased over the report, claiming that it was inaccurate and tarnishes the image of the country. The police have begun an investigation into the news agency under Section 500 of the Penal Code and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for potential sedition and defamation. Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has demanded a formal apology from Al Jazeera, claiming that such accusations were done with malicious intent.

The international news agency claims that the documentary upholds the the professional quality of impartial journalism, and that it also highlighted Malaysia’s success in containing the virus. They also claim to have sought comments from senior government officials but received no response.

Al Jazeera journalists and its staff based in Malaysia have reported being harassed online, including receiving death threats. Now, the news agency is calling on Malaysian authorities to respect media freedom and to desist from treating its journalists as criminals.

Why it matters: Freedom of press in Malaysia has been frequently called into question, as it is not uncommon for reporters, activists, and journalists to be hauled away by police after reports on certain activities or speaking out about certain issues.

Who said what: In their statement, Al Jazeera noted that charging journalists for doing their jobs is not the action of a democracy that values free speech.

Journalism is not a crime.

Al Jazeera

The news agency has also expressed their concern for the safety of those interviewed in the documentary who have also been subjected to abusive online harassment and hate speech.

Read more:
Al Jazeera rejects Malaysian officials’ claims over documentary [Al Jazeera]
Al Jazeera Documentary Backlash: 5 Important Things You Need To Know [TRP]
Police begin investigation into Al Jazeera report on illegal immigrants in Malaysia [The Star]
Putrajaya labels Al Jazeera report on mistreatment of migrants ‘malicious’, demands apology [Malay Mail]
Controversial Arrests, Charges & Investigations Under PN (So Far) [TRP]
Malaysian Journalist Under Police Investigation Added To Intl Info Hero List [TRP]

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