KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 — DAP will demand a “full public apology” in Parliament from two PAS leaders for belittling a news reporter who sought their comments amid a storm over the Kedah government’s ban of gambling statewide.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng condemned the actions of Idris Ahmad who is also the minister in charge of Islamic affairs, and deputy human resources minister Datuk Awang Hashim as “not befitting of members of the federal government”.
Lim also labelled the men as “heartless bullies of minorities and women”.
“This may be acceptable behaviour for PAS leaders in their party who admire the Taliban government in Afghanistan but not to Malaysians who have rights under the Federal Constitution,” said Lim who is Bagan MP.
In a separate statement, Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching also criticised the two PAS men and asked the Communications and Multimedia Ministry to look into protecting the rights of journalists.
“The hostile attitude and personal attack of PAS vice-president Idris Ahmad, and PAS MP Awang Hashim towards FMT reporter Minderjeet Kaur in an interview was shameful, disrespectful, and unprofessional. Minderjeet was merely doing her job in that interview, and their reply reflects their inability to give a rational explanation for the gaming ban, but instead resulting in bullying tactics to deflect the question,” said Teo who is also from DAP.
Like Lim, she said Idris and Awang should apologise to Minderjeet.
Teo said it was not the first time veteran politicians had harassed and bullied journalists.
She pointed to a news conference last year when then Prasarana Malaysia Berhad chairman Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman berated a foreign correspondent from Phoenix TV China during a news conference after the LRT crash near KLCC.
“The act of bullying from a position of power is unbecoming of a minister and deputy minister, not only are they encouraging people under their influence, and the absence of consequences also indicates that this is an acceptable behaviour to emulate,” the DAP assistant national publicity secretary added.
Yesterday, PKR leader and former Senator, Mohd Yusmadi bin Mohd Yusoff also criticised the PAS leaders over their behavior and demanded that they apologise for their conduct.
“It is the responsibility of the journalist to ask questions which are of public interest. The government should rightfully take the opportunity to explain and not intimidate journalists who do their job.
“The role of the media in a democratic system is just as important, and it is no exaggeration to say it becomes more important in a semi-authoritarian country like Malaysia. The attitude shown by the minister and deputy minister reflects arrogance and intimidation towards the media. I urge that the minister and deputy minister apologise to the journalist immediately!” Yusmadi said in a statement.
Minderjeet Kaur, a reporter with Free Malaysia Today, had sought comments from both Idris and Awang on the PAS-led Kedah government’s abrupt announcement over the weekend that it would not renew the business licences of 4D gaming outlets in the state, which will effectively shutter gambling shops statewide.
Idris reportedly replied by changing the question, asking the reporter instead if she could tolerate a gambler for a husband while Awang chided her for not speaking in the national language and even asking if she is a Malaysian.
PAS Youth information chief Nadzir Helmi has defended Idris and Awang and described the incident as the reporter “meeting her match”.