CIJ, WAMI dispute minister's accusations
The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI) reject the accusations by Minister of Information Zainuddin Maidin that we are linked to Hindraf and that we are being used by foreign powers, as a tactic to draw the attention away from genuine criticisms.
On December 9, the national news agency Bernama quoted the Minister as discrediting CIJ and WAMI and alleging that they have links with Hindraf and foreigners to spread slander against the ministry's agency. The Minister was responding to a statement issued by CIJ and WAMI on December 4 expressing concern that the seven deejays from the state-run MinnalFM were reportedly suspended from air based on suspected participation in the Hindraf rally. The two groups called for the deejays to be reinstated.
We are of the opinion that the Minister's accusation was done in bad faith as it is clear that all information in the statement on the issue were properly attributed and checked. CIJ staff contacted MinnalFM's director, Raja Sekaran for comments and a possible rebuttal. It is also unfair for the Minister to accuse CIJ and WAMI as a tool for foreign power, an accusation often thrown against anyone critical of the ruling government. This link to foreign powers and agents has become a convenient approach for the ruling politicians to disregard genuine criticism against them and their administration.
CIJ and WAMI maintain that the aim of the statement is to voice out in defense of media workers, in this case, the deejays, against possible punishment for exercising their right to freedom of assembly.
We believe that the respect for fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and assembly are crucial for peace and harmony. In the rally organised by Hindraf, we respect the rights of those who have real frustrations and concerns that they wanted to share through a democratically recognised form – public gathering. Thereby, we reject strongly the Minister's insinuations that CIJ and WAMI seek disorder through slander and links with foreign powers.
Executive Director, CIJ
Wong Chin Huat
For more information, please contact Wai Fong at 03 40230772