IFJ Condemns Victimisation of Journalist Union Leader in Malaysia

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls

on the management of the Utusan Melayu newspaper in

Malaysia to respect the rights of working journalists

to freely discuss industry issues, amid concerns the paper is victimising

the leader of the country’s journalists’ union.

 

Utusan Melayu initiated a domestic inquiry into

the actions of Ha’ta Wahari, an employee of the paper and president of the National Union of Journalists of Malaysia (NUJM), which was scheduled for January 17.

 

However,

after 30 minutes of argument from NUJM

General Secretary V. Anbalagan, the inquiry chairman Mohd Bashir Abdul Rahim abandoned the inquiry for unexplained

reasons.

 

Utusan has suspended Wahari indefinitely.

 

In a

statement, Anbalagan said that despite the possibility that the NUJM would not be permitted to represent the

journalist, Wahari was prepared to continue with the domestic inquiry in order

to clear his name.

 

The inquiry was

sparked by a series of statements by Wahari regarding

professional and industrial concerns of union members, particularly regarding the state of journalistic ethics. UtusanMelayuclaimed

that Wahari, as an employee of the paper, had tarnished its image, the NUJM reported.

 

“The IFJ is extremely concerned that

a media organisation would attempt to pursue a journalist for speaking out on

ethical journalism and other important professional concerns,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

 

“Media organisations seeking to

produce quality journalism are encouraged to listen to the concerns of staff,

aired through their union representatives, and to work together towards

improving standards and conditions in the industry.”

 

Wahari had faced eight counts of misconduct for issuing

statements to The Sun newspaper and news

portals Malaysiakini, Malaysian Insider and Merdeka Review between September

21 and October 14, 2010.

 

In September 2009, former NUJM

branch chairman and UtusanMelayuemployee Amran Ahmad was dismissed after a domestic

inquiry by the company. His case is now before Malaysia’s Industrial Court.

 

The IFJ calls for the company to reinstate Wahari to his full duties and abandon

further disciplinary action against the journalist. The IFJ also calls for Utusan management to support staff members

who are promoting the professional and industrial rights of working journalists.

 

See Malaysiakini coverage of the domestic inquiry hearing here.

 

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ represents 600,000 journalists in 125 countries

 

Find the IFJ

on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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