KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — A Bernama TV talk show host is believed to have been suspended by the national news agency after using a derogatory Arabic term to describe Al Jazeera and telling the Qatar-based international broadcaster to “shut up” during a “live” broadcast that aired earlier this week.
Taking to Twitter, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said he was informed by Bernama’s chairman that action has been taken against the host.
“We do not agree with the news channel’s report, but we cannot call them such names. I have been informed by Bernama’s chairman that action has been taken,” he said in the tweet.
The incident is understood to have taken place during the Malaysia Petang Ini programme that aired on Bernama TV on Monday, with one of the hosts claiming “Al Jahiliyah’s” report was unethical and without basis.
Al-Jahiliyah is an Arabic term for “ignorance”. The host then signed off by saying, “I’m Leena Pahlavy. Al Jazeera, you shut up”.
The remarks were made during a discussion on the controversy over Al Jazeera’s report on Malaysia’s treatment of migrants during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kita tak setuju dgn satu laporan saluran berita itu. Tapi kita tak boleh menggelarnya dgn panggilan itu. Sy dimaklumkan oleh Pengerusi Bernama yg tindakan telah diambil. https://t.co/vTSmwWCAL8— Saifuddin Abdullah (@saifuddinabd) July 8, 2020
Al Jazeera drew attention to the detention of migrants caught in Covid-19 red zones around Kuala Lumpur when the country was under the movement control order (MCO), which eventually led to clusters of outbreaks in detention depots.
On July 3, Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera released a 25.50-minute-long documentary titled Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown on undocumented migrant workers in Malaysia, which subsequently caused an uproar among Malaysians who expressed doubts about the veracity of the report.
The documentary had claimed Malaysia was discriminating against undocumented migrants in its Covid-19 prevention efforts, and supported this premise by quoting several apparently disgruntled foreign nationals staying here who condemned on camera the treatment they were purportedly afforded by the authorities.