'Red Shirts' Violence Extends to Journalists in Malaysia

'Red Shirts' Violence Extends to Journalists in Malaysia
Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像
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'Hands off our journalists', media organizations say after violence on the weekend.

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Media organizations have spoken out against the actions of supporters of an anti-Bersih [The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections] group who accosted and roughed up media personnel covering the Bersih convoy in Kuala Selangor on Aug. 15.

Malaysiakini condemned the harassment of journalists and photographers carrying out their duties, taking note that one of the online news portal's photographers was also assaulted.

"We note that Jamal Md Yunos has apologized for the unruly behavior. However, Malaysiakini demands that Jamal ensure such attacks on media personnel do not recur."

Jamal leads the anti-Bersih "red shirts" movement and is also Sungai Besar Umno (United Malays National Organisation) chief.

"Such acts of hooliganism are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated," stressed the news portal in a statement today.

The same sentiments were echoed by The Star Media Group managing director and chief executive officer Wong Chun Wai, who also condemned the harassment and intimidation of by the anti-Bersih group against reporters.

He said such provocation against the media covering the Bersih 5.0 convoy in Kuala Selangor was totally unnecessary, adding that the three journalists from The Star who were accosted, had lodged police reports and identified the culprits to the police.

"We hope the necessary action will be taken swiftly.

"Malaysia has no place for mob rule, hooligans and thugs.

"No one should be allowed to harass and intimidate anyone, especially the media from carrying out their work," he said in a statement.

Wong said the action of these individuals should be condemned by all rational and moderate Malaysians regardless of their political allegiance.

In two separate incidents in Kuala Selangor, several members of the media were roughed up by members of the anti-Bersih group.

A Malaysiakini photographer was called "Cina babi" and roughed up while recording images of several members of the group.

Three reporters from The Star were also accosted and manhandled by members of the same group, as they were covering the Bersih convoy at its pit stop near a local retail outlet.

The News Lens has been authorized to repost this article. The piece was first published on Malaysiakini.

Edited by: Edward White