Malaysia’s Ranking Of 122 Out Of 178 Countries For 2012/2013 In The World Press Freedom Index Is Bound To Drop(en/cn)

2012 World Press Freedom Day by DAP Secretary-General and MP for Bagan Lim Guan Eng in Kuala Lumpur on 3.5.2012

Malaysia’s Ranking Of 122 Out Of 178 Countries For 2012/2013 In The World Press Freedom Index Is Bound To Drop After The Debacle Of Police Brutality Against Reporters And Photographers During Bersih 3.0 And The Anti-Lynas Demonstration In Penang.

Press freedom is essential in any functioning democratic society, is clearly under threat in Malaysia. In the aftermath of the Bersih 3.0 debacle that saw not only innocent protesters but also media workers such as reporters and photographers being manhandled, beaten up and their camera equipment destroyed, there is no doubt that press freedom in our country is deteriorating and getting more restricted.

Earlier this year, there was short-lived joy as Malaysia gained 19 places in the 2011/2012 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders to 122nd place, compared to being ranked 141st in 2010. In actual fact, we have actually regressed because we were ranked 92nd in 2006, and have merely regained some lost ground. That said, being ranked joint-122nd on the same level as Tajikistan and Algeria is not something we can be proud of. Even Cambodia fared better at rank 117th.

In light of recent events, Malaysia’s ranking is set to take a dive. Nearly 20 reporters and photographers were reported to have been assaulted police during the Bersih 3.0 rally, including The Sun reporter Radzi Razak who was assaulted by up to 15 police officers.

Even reporters from international agency Al-Jazeera were not spared, as they reported Al Jazeera cameraman Ray Jones was punched at the head while Al Jazeera’s correspondent Harry Fawcett was roughed up while they tried to film an officer beating up a protester.

Worse, BBC and Al-Jazeera’s news coverage was censored by Astro for breaching local content regulations. To date, neither the Home Ministry nor Astro has clarified what the local content regulations were.

The fact that the police did indeed beat up members of the media is irrefutable. Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak himself whispered an apology to the Sun reporter Radzi Razak who was warded to hospital after the beating and the Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar apology to another victim of police brutality, Malay Mail reporter Muhammad Ariff.

DAP regrets that the Minister of Home Affairs Datuk Seri Hishamudin Tun Hussein Onn’s stated that the issue must be looked at in the right context because those allegedly beaten by protesters are worse off than those beaten by the police. Hishamuddin’s statement is shocking as it appears to give police the right to illegally beat up protesters. Whilst DAP supports action against demonstrators who turn violent, action must also taken against violence by policemen on peaceful demonstrators.

The public is sceptical whether the new independent panel set up by the Home Ministry to investigate complaints of police brutality will result in any action when no action is taken by the police on attacks against reporters in July last year at the Penang Bridge and at the anti-Lynas rally at Speaker’s Corner in Esplanade, Penang on 26 February. In the first incident 2 reporters were attacked last year when covering a demonstration involving UMNO at the Penang Bridge.

At an Anti-Lynas rally on 26 February 2012, UMNO and Perkasa members violently attacked and injured two reporters. One of the reporters had to endure 8 stitches to close his injury. Up to now, not a single person has been either arrested or charged by the Penang police. If even UMNO and Perkasa gangsters are not charged in court for beating up reporters, how can the public hope that the police will charge policemen involved in beating up reporters?

Any talk about transformation and greater freedom has been nothing more than lip-service. Until and unless an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) is formed and the Printing Presses and Publications Act abolished, there will never be true press freedom in Malaysia.

DAP expresses full support for all Malaysians to dress in black and pin a yellow ribbon to commemorate World Press Freedom Day today with many Chinese newspapers printing in black today. This occasion is important for press freedom and all Malaysians to stand in solidarity with not just Malaysians assembling peacefully but also the reporters and photographers who were either beaten, had their cameras taken away or smashed during Bersih 3.0 rally.

Lim Guan Eng

—-Mandarin Version—-
民主行动党秘书长兼峇眼区国会议员林冠英于2012年5月3日世界新闻自由日献词:

马来西亚在2012-2013年世界新闻自由指数排名下滑是必定的(目前在178个国家中排名122),特别是警察在净选盟3.0及槟州反莱纳斯两场集会中,粗暴对待记者和摄影记者。

新闻自由是任何功能健全的民主社会的要素,在马来西亚,新闻自由被侵犯着。在净选盟3.0集会中,不只是无辜的集会参与者受到暴力对待,就连媒体工作者如记者、摄影记者的摄影器材也被毁坏,无疑地,我国的新闻自由情况不断恶化、打压更加严厉。

今年初, 马来西亚刚刚为无边界记者的2011/2013新闻自由指数排名上升到122名而感到欢喜,这个排名比2010年141名上升19位。但是,我们其实在退步,因为我们在2006年排名第92位,我们只是赢回一点点。意思说,与塔及克斯坦、爱尔及利亚同样排名122并不值得骄傲,就连柬埔寨的排名117都略胜一筹。

最近发生了那么多事,马来西亚的排名肯定又将滑落,在净选盟3.0集会中,将近20名记者和摄影记者遭警方粗暴对待,包括被15名警察围殴的《太阳报》记者拉兹拉萨。

就连国际通讯社《半岛电视台》也没有幸免,他们的报导指出,他们的录像记者雷琼斯的头部中拳,而通讯员哈里弗吉企图拍摄一名警员殴打集会者的片段时,也遭围殴。

更糟的是,英国广播电台和半岛电视台的新闻,被指触犯我国媒体内容条例而被Astro电视台检查。至今,内政部和Astro电视台都没有说明到底他们触犯什么媒体内容条例。

事实上,警方殴打媒体工作者是不争的事实。首相拿督斯里纳吉在《太阳报》 记者拉兹拉萨被打送院后,在其耳边轻声道歉。而总警长丹斯里依斯迈奥玛也向另一名警察暴力受害者《马来邮报》记者莫哈末阿力夫道歉。

民主行动党对于内政部长拿督斯里希山慕丁说,我们看这个课题的真实内容,因为那些被集会者殴打的情况比被警员殴打的情况还严重。希山慕丁的言论令人震惊,看来,警员授权非法殴打集会人士。民主行动党支持采取行动,对付那些粗暴的集会者,我们也认为粗暴对待和平集会人士的警员也必须受到对付。

公众都很怀疑,内政部针对警方暴力新成立的独立调查团,是否又会不了了之? 去年7月, 亲巫统示威者在槟城第一大桥示威,以及今年2月26日发生在槟州旧关仔角演说者角落的反莱纳斯大集会,也发生记者遭袭击事件,前者两名记者在采访巫统涉及的集会时被殴。

在2月26日反莱纳斯集会中,巫统和土权组织的成员暴力致伤两名记者,其中一名受伤的记者还缝了八针。到今天,槟州警方也还没有逮捕或提控任何人。如果巫统和土权的流氓在攻击记者可以逍遥法外,当局都没有采取行动,我们真的可以指望警方会提控那些涉及殴打记者的警员吗?

谈什么转型、更多新闻自由都只是空谈而已。除非政府成立独立警方投诉及行为不检委员会(IPCMC)、出版及印刷法令废除,否则马来西亚不会有真正的新闻自由。

民主行动党全力支持全体马来西亚人穿黑衣及配戴黄丝带,来纪念世界新闻自由日,今天也有很多中文报章以黑色版面出街。这是新闻自由的重要日子,也是全体参与和平集会的马来西亚人表示团结一致,也对那些在净选盟3.0集会中被殴打、摄影器材被抢走或毁坏的记者和摄影记者表示声援支持。

林冠英

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