Malaysia: Ensure safety of media workers

Journalists have provided an essential service during Covid-19 by keeping public informed. With a spike this week in Covid-19 cases in the country, it is critical that journalists are protected while they are doing their jobs. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins media freedom defenders in Malaysia, including IFJ’s affiliate the National Union of Journalists Peninsular Malaysia (NUJM) to call upon all parties all sides to ensure the safety of journalists and media workers.

People walk in a commercial district in Kuala Lumpur on October 7, 2020. Credit: Mohd RASFAN/AFP

It has been reported that three officers of the Election Commission on duty during the Sabah state election in September 26, 2020 have tested positive for Covid-19. The election was identified as one of the main causes of a significant surge in positive cases. Journalists from numerous media outlets were sent to Sabah to cover the election there.  On returning to the peninsula Malaysia, at least one media worker has tested positive for Covid-19.

NUJM have since reminded every media worker to remain vigilant when carrying out their duties and comply with all standard operating procedures, wear masks and maintain a high level or personal hygiene. Media workers who have just returned from a risky area or have Covid-19 symptoms should undergo a swab test and comply with quarantine rules.

“It is important to remind ourselves that all of us are frontliners and every one of us has an important role to inform the public and protect our country. NUJM will always be with all media workers in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic,” NUJM said.

The Merdeka Media Movement (Geramm) also published a statement requesting cooperation from all parties, especially leaders of the country who invite the media to be vigilant and take note of the health status of political leaders and government authorities. 

“A political leader who came back from Sabah and is undergoing quarantine is advised to update their health status, whether negative or positive from Covid-19 infection. Notification of their health status on social media helps reporters and the public who have interacted with them,” Geramm added.

The IFJ said: “IFJ stands with the media freedom defenders in Malaysia to call on all sides to protect journalists and ensure their safety while on duty. The authorities must be transparent, maintain safety protocols and take all necessary precautions to ensure journalists are not in danger.”

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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