Journalists across Malaysia wear black to show solidarity with arrested media execs

Journalists in media houses around Malaysia, including those from The Star (pictured), turned up for work in black, in a show of solidarity with online portal The Malaysian Insider (TMI) over the recent arrests of its editors and publisher. -- PHOTO:
Journalists in media houses around Malaysia, including those from The Star (pictured), turned up for work in black, in a show of solidarity with online portal The Malaysian Insider (TMI) over the recent arrests of its editors and publisher. -- PHOTO: THE STAR / ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Journalists in media houses around Malaysia turned up for work in black, in a show of solidarity with online portal The Malaysian Insider (TMI) over the recent arrests of its editors and publisher.

Most reporters wore black, including those from The Star. Those covering the Parliament proceedings were also in black.

The Institute of Journalists Malaysia said reporters were wearing black in solidarity, calling the arrests "an attack on press freedom as a whole, not on merely one news organisation".

"We call on all journalists to unite against unwarranted action against the press," it said here yesterday.

Three editors - Lionel Morais, Zulkifli Sulong and Amin Iskandar - were arrested on Monday while The Edge publisher Ho Kay Tat and TMI chief executive officer Jahabar Sadiq were picked up on Tuesday. All have since been released.

TMI is owned by The Edge Media Group.

National Union of Journalists secretary-general Schave Jerome De Rozario said he hoped the public would join in the silent protest.

"We have to voice out that freedom of speech is always a priority and journalists should be free to tell the truth," he said.

He also called for fairer use of the Sedition Act, saying there were many ways to seek legal recourse against a story with a mistake.

The Malay Mail journalist Ushar Daniele said that such harsh action against media practitioners would hinder them from carrying out their duties.

"The arrests came as a shock to me because I would have expected the situation to be handled in a more civil manner.

An Utusan Malaysia reporter said journalists were entitled to write what they believe to be true and members of the media should not be arrested for doing their jobs.

"Filing lawsuits and taking journalists to court is one thing, but arresting them is something that should not be done," she said.

Journalist and cartoonist Sukhbir Cheema also wore black to protest the use of Sedition Act against the media.

"It is worrying. If I don't make my voice heard, it will continue. In the long term, it will pose a huge problem for freedom of expression in Malaysia," he said.