Malaysia: Malaysiakini journalist target of online hate campaign

Malaysiakini journalist Kow Gah Chie has been targeted in an online hate campaign after publishing a story on the country’s new environment minister and his defence for logging in Kelantan. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the National Union of Journalists Peninsular Malaysia (NUJM) to urge Facebook to take immediate action to end the harassment of Kow Gah Chie on its platform.

The online hate campaign against Malaysiakini journalist. Credit: Malaysiakini

The attacks on the Malaysiakini journalist began on March 12, after publication of a video on KiniTV a day earlier of a doorstop interview with the incoming environment minister, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man. In the video, Tuan Ibrahim, who is also the deputy president of Islamist Party PAS, was asked by reporters to respond on the criticisms of logging activities in Kelantan, a state governed by PAS. He went on to say logging was legal because Kelantan had ISO certification and accused opposition politicians for the negative perception of logging in the region.

The online onslaught of hate against Kow accused Malaysiakini of fabricating the story and directed personal and racist posts at Kow calling her a pig, with threats of physical harm. By March 14, the posts were shared more than 2,900 times and garnered more than 2,200 comments.

Malaysiakini reported the posts to Facebook but said no action was taken. Malaysiakini said it had been trying to contact Facebook directly since March 13.

The NUJM said: “The NUJ calls on the government and respective authority to take swift action against those responsible for posting the threats and racist remarks against Kow. Sooner or later more and more such incidences will occur not only against journalists but also between races in Malaysia if it is not curbed immediately.”

The IFJ said: “Online hate is a serious human rights abuse. The IFJ calls on Facebook to immediately act on this matter and to investigate the perpetrators of these hate crimes on its platform that create a dangerous environment for journalist in Malaysia.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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