It also calls for the Freedom of Information Act to replace the Official Secrets Act.
PETALING JAYA: The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Peninsular Malaysia has sarcastically proposed that reporters obtain written confirmation from the Attorney-General or any minister that their articles were not based on leaked information.
This is to avoid them being prosecuted by the AG for leaking information.
“Although we are merely reporting, we fear the news could be based on leaked information and everyone knows the powers the AG wields now, which he has displayed recently,” NUJ secretary-general Schave Jerome De Rozario said in a statement.
He was responding to Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali’s plan to increase penalties for revealing “official secrets” under the Official Secrets Act 1972 and expanding the scope of the law to include journalists.
The media industry, De Rozario added, must now be prepared as NUJ could not be held responsible if one of its members was imprisoned for life or received 10 strokes of the rotan.
De Rozario labelled Apandi’s proposal as “cruel and undemocratic” as journalists were meant to report the truth.
He explained that reporters operated within guidelines, which included protecting their sources.
Meanwhile, the Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJ) said journalists who decide to run stories with verified information should not be penalised for seeking to highlight issues that deserved public attention.
In a statement, IoJ said this was especially so when there was no substantial oversight of government activities.
“While the Institute does not condone any act that could compromise the proper functioning of the government, it is at the same time apprehensive of any attempt to increase punitive measures against those seeking to reveal the truth in cases of public interest.”
The IoJ stressed that it was a journalist’s duty to protect the identity of their sources as part of the universally accepted ethical practice of journalism, while at the same time paying heed to existing local laws.
It also felt that in view of public interest, and ultimately national interests, it would be better for the Freedom of Information Act to replace the Official Secrets Act.
“This will make sure that those elected and appointed to positions of power are held to account and bound by the principles of transparency as the country looks forward to stamping out corruption and abuse of power.”
Source from FMT NEWS