Enact law to protect media personnel, journalists urge

21 May 2022 07:40pm
Indonesian journalists Shinta Maharani and Eben Haezar speaking at the Media Solidarity Awards at the Biblio Cafe, today. - Photo by KOUSALYA SELVAM
Indonesian journalists Shinta Maharani and Eben Haezar speaking at the Media Solidarity Awards at the Biblio Cafe, today. - Photo by KOUSALYA SELVAM

PETALING JAYA - Malaysian and Indonesian journalists are calling for a press law to be enacted to protect media personnel from being victims of harassment and violence.

This follows recent incidents of media personnel being harassed while performing their duties.

During the Media Solidarity Awards today, Indonesian journalists Shinta Maharani and Eben Haezar, both shared their personal experiences of enduring harassment and threats while on duty.

Shinta who was also Yogyakarta Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (Alliance of Independent Journalists or AJI) chief shared about what happened to a journalist who was killed for publishing a series of articles on corruption in the Bantul Regency months before his death.

"Udin who was a well-known investigative journalist in Jakarta was killed.

"On Aug 13, 1996, he was attacked at his house by two unidentified assailants using a metal rod.

"He died after three days," she said during the event at the Biblio Cafe, here, today.

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Shinta said in her country, media personnel would receive all kinds of threats, and had to endure violence for covering certain news like the LGBT issue.

She said it was extremely difficult for them to carry out their duty as they were not protected under the press law.

Meanwhile, Eben who was also the Surabaya AJI chief shared that a journalist faced brutality for taking photos at a closed-door wedding event involving a high authority figure.

"Nurhadi, a journalist from Surabaya was beaten up by 10 to 15 people.

"The accused, however, was only sentenced to 10 months' jail and a fine for damaging the journalist's belongings such as the camera, recorder and hand phone during the incident.

"This is why me and Shinta as well as other journalists from each district in Surabaya joined hands in solidarity," he said.

Their act of solidarity included organising protests as well as putting up posters and banners.

Two journalists from The Vibes news portal Qistina Nadia Dzulqarnain and Lancelot Theseira also shared their experience in the recent incident at the Pudu Urban Transformation Centre (UTC).

The two on-duty reporters were allegedly harassed and threatened by security guards at the centre when they attempted to speak to members of the public who had been waiting in line at the immigration office for hours.

Investigation on the incident was being carried out by the Immigration Department.

The Media Solidarity Awards was organised by media activism groups Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm) and Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ).

The event also memorialised former Malay Mail editor-in-chief Datuk Wong Sai Wan, former Borneo Post founder and editor Colin Forsythe as well as former Astro, NST and Yahoo journalist Marc Lourdes who had recently died.