KUALA LUMPUR, May 16 — Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm) today called for laws to protect media personnel when performing their duties, after the police decided on no further action against those who reportedly harassed the media recently.
The media activist group said that in matters of public interest, the need to “request permission” from any parties should not be a mandatory first step before a journalist’s investigation or coverage of an issue.
“The responsibility of the media is to follow ethical principles while on the job, including introducing themselves as a reporter (or wearing their press identification tags), to obscure the identity of individuals or sources when needed.
“Also to give the right of reply towards any allegations,” Geramm said in a statement.
Geramm’s statement came after the decision made by the police in a dispute between two journalists from news portal The Vibes and a former security guard at the Immigration Department branch at UTC Pudu on Saturday.
The Vibes reported that their journalists were subjected to verbal intimidation and threats, with a video posted on their Twitter page showing the incident going viral.
Dang Wangi District Police Chief Noor Dellhan Yahaya subsequently was reported saying that no further action would be taken against those who harassed the journalists as no criminal offence was committed and nobody was assaulted.
The police said they will not act on the police report lodged by the reporters, and will not even be calling them to record their statements.
He reportedly said that the journalists can instead refer the case to the magistrate for civil action.
Geramm also said that in matters of public interest, the need to “request permission” from the relevant party before starting coverage should not be made a mandatory first step.
“Interruption and obstruction of media duties by any party, especially if it involves physical and verbal violence, should be a legal offence that leads to punishment for the perpetrator,” it added.
Geramm also reiterated its call for an independent national media council to self-regulate the industry, an initiative that has gone dormant since the fall of the Pakatan Harapan government.