Tuesday 19 July 2011

Kit Siang to Hisham: How about NST, Berita Harian?

DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang has urged Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to act fairly and equally against all publications instead of indulging in selective persecution over the coverage of the Bersih 2.0 rally of July 9.

teoh beng hock memorial night 160710 kit siangReacting to the disclosure by a PAS volunteer that he had been falsely accused of holding a knife and rock-throwing during the Saturday demonstrations, Lim asked whether New Straits Times (NST) and sister-publication Berita Minggu would be hauled up by the home ministry to answer claims their reports had distorted the events of that day.

Lim also cited the ministry's summoning of three Chinese-language dailies last week over claims they had reported favourably on what the authorities had branded were “illegal assemblies”.

It is understood that the editors who were called to Putrajaya belonged to Sin Chew Daily, Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press.

PAS' Unit Amal volunteer corps member Abdul Razak Endut had on July 16 told a ceramah in Kuala Lumpur that the 'knife' he was purported by Berita Minggu to have been holding was actually a Malaysian flag that he had rolled up in his hand.

The 'rock' Berita Minggu's caption accused him of hurling at the police was a tear gas canister that he was throwing back to them to protect the peaceful demonstrators behind him, Abdul Razak said in his talk.

The same image of Abdul Razak was also featured on NST's New Sunday Times' front page with the title "Peaceful?"

Both New Sunday Times and Berita Minggu are Sunday editions of NST and Berita Harian, which are in turn published by New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd (NSTP).

NONENSTP had on July 11 denied rumours that the picture referred to was doctored.

“These rumours alleged that the man pictured allegedly about to throw something at Federal Reserve Unit policemen was "an Arab" superimposed on a picture of Bersih 2.0 demonstrators running away from tear gas on Saturday.

"This is an insult to the dedicated press photographers who were tirelessly working throughout the city, at times putting their own safety at risk, to capture these images for readers," said the company in its clarification.

NSTP photo editor Zahari Zakaria has refuted allegations that the photo was edited, saying it was "neither doctored nor manipulated".

NSTP did not, however, address the caption to the Berita Minggu photograph which read: "Seorang perusuh membawa pisau dalam perhimpunan haram" (A rioter brings a knife to illegal rally) and another subheadline read: "Perusuh guna senjata, batu, lawan polis" (Rioters use weapons, rocks to fight police).

Chiding the two publications over the mater, Lim described NST and Berita Harian as having violated “all the basic tenets of journalism of truth, fair play and responsibility” and committed a “great disservice” to the plural Malaysian nation-building”.

“Has the Home Ministry “hauled up” New Sunday Times and Berita Minggu for their “doctored” false photograph on the front page of “a violent protestor” at the 709 rally?" Lim asked in reference to the July 9 gathering.

He also questioned whether Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia had been issued a show-cause letter for its religiously- and racially-charged reports on those critical of the BN-led government.

Lim said all journalists and management personnel in NST and Berita Minggu should “step up” and “own up” to the “photographic falsification” of Abdul Razak instead of maintaining their silence over the matter.

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