PETALING JAYA: The media should not be obstructed nor harassed in their line of duty, which is often about matters of public interest, say media groups.
Their call came after two journalists were harassed by security guards at the Pudu Urban Transformation Centre (UTC) while they were working on a story on Malaysians having to put up with long queues when they sought to apply or renew their passports at the Immigration Department counters.
Peninsular Malaysia National Union of Journalists (NUJ) president Farah Marshita Abd Patah urged relevant parties not to obstruct the media from doing their job.
“The journalist’s right to report on issues related to the public should be protected and respected.
“It is time for the government to take serious action to protect journalists’ rights. Journalists should be given the right to report on facts without any obstruction,” she said.
A brief video of the incident yesterday, which was uploaded on Twitter, showed a security guard yelling at a reporter, who is heard questioning why he is not allowed to report the situation at the Immigration Department in Pudu UTC.
“Cannot, do you understand? Get out! Cannot, this is the law, this is UTC, understand? Get out! I am in charge now,” yelled the guard, who then started a “countdown” to calling the police if the journalist refused to leave.
The Star NUJ president Low Boon Tat said journalists have often been subjected to harassment, now, more than ever.
“There have been many times when we have to deal with security officers who are rude to us,” he said.
Noting that the Pudu UTC is a public area, he questioned how security personnel could have the power to stop journalists from doing their job.
He said it is ironic that the government had issued media tags to journalists who were, in turn, disrespected at their offices.
Journalists also faced similar problems with enforcement officers and bodyguards, he added.
Media watchdog Gerakan Media Marah (Geramm) said a security officer manning the centre had also attempted to confiscate the handphone that the journalist was using to record the situation at the UTC.
Geramm said it was the responsibility of the media to report on the situation on the ground and should be given room to do so.
“This matter should have been resolved in a professional manner instead of using intimidation, as it will reflect badly on the organisation,” it said in a statement.
“Under Indonesian law, obstructing the media from performing its duty is an offence.”
During the UTC incident, the journalists were told that they were not allowed to take pictures or speak to those standing in line along the corridors without official approval.
Dang Wangi OCPD Asst Comm Noor Dellhan Yahaya said police were aware of the matter.