KUALA LUMPUR, July 10 — Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador today assured all journalists in the country of their safety, following death threat claims received by Al Jazeera staff.
Several staff of the international broadcaster had last week complained of receiving death threats over its recent documentary on the treatment of migrants in the country during the Covid-19 movement control order, for which it has come under severe criticism over its negative portrayal of Malaysia.
“I want to give my assurance to the media, whether local media or foreign media, that your safety is guaranteed.
“If there have been threats made, they can come forward and make a report and we, the police, will investigate it,” Abdul Hamid told a news conference at Bukit Aman here.
He also asked the public to “control their emotions” in their social media responses on the issue that has since sparked a national uproar.
He said the police will be fair in its investigations and will give an opportunity to those involved to explain themselves fully.
Abdul Hamid said the police are not out to intimidate journalists nor will they allow for any intimidation by anyone towards the press, adding that the force supports media freedom.
“I myself support the principle of media freedom that is responsible.
“If they feel they were being fair in their reporting; don’t be afraid, I am not going to intimidate them,” he said, referring to Al Jazeera staff.
“I am also not going to allow anyone to harm or cause harm, or to instigate to harm them; be brave and professional,” he added.
Abdul Hamid said police called Al Jazeera staff today to record their statements as witnesses and not suspects in ongoing investigations, as ordered by the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC).
He explained that after analysing Al Jazeera’s much talked about show, Locked Up In Malaysia’s Lockdown, police found there were “elements which could have gone against the Sedition Act, the Penal Code, and the Communications and Multimedia Act” as the documentary portrayed Malaysia as a “bad” country.
“If there is evidence, the AGC then will decide whether to continue with a charge, or not to charge, or NFA,” he added, meaning no further action.
Locked Up In Malaysia’s Lockdown was aired on June 3 by the Doha-based agency.
In the documentary, claims were made that Malaysian authorities were mistreating undocumented migrant workers here and that mass arrests were made during the movement control order imposed from March 18.
Ministers, the Immigration Department, and the police had all reacted to the documentary, with Defence minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob demanding an apology from the news agency.
Immigration director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud has warned foreigners that making negative statements about Malaysia could result in their passes revoked, a day before his department released a Bangladeshi’s complete details seeking public assistance to locate him after being featured in the production.