Media statement by Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, 18th July 2011:
Doctored 709 photo — who’s responsible?
All top journalists as well as management personnel in New Sunday Times and Berita Minggu responsible for the photographic falsification of a PAS Unit Amal volunteer as a violent 709 protestor armed with knife when he was holding a Malaysian flag and not throwing rocks at police should step out and own up.
It is a violation of all the basic tenets of journalism of truth, fair play and responsibility for New Straits Times through the New Sunday Times and Berita Minggua to commit such a blatant and flagrant breach of journalistic ethics – a base and lowly act irresponsibility not only to the profession of journalism but also a great disservice to the plural Malaysian nation-building.
The Malay daily Berita Minggu had on July 10 front-paged the picture of a heavily-built man in a white T-shirt with a black cloth wrapped around his face.
The man, shrouded in smoke, was depicted hurling an object with his left hand while in his right was what appeared to be a knife handle.
The caption 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).
The same image was also featured on New Sunday Times’ front page with the title: “Peaceful?”.
The person concerned, Abdul Razak Endut, has surfaced to rebut and expose what must be one of the most irresponsible and despicable case of journalistic chicanery in the history of Malaysian journalism.
A PAS Unit Amal volunteer, Abdul Razak denied he had a knife and that he was in fact holding a Malaysian flag and he was not throwing rocks at police.
Abdul Razak said: “When the FRU fired tear gas, I saw the wind blowing towards the demonstrators… I picked up the canister and tossed it to a grass field with the hope that the demonstrators would be safe.”
Abdul Razak explained that earlier, he had joined others in forming a human shield to prevent police advances on demonstrators.
“However, that did not happen. Instead, the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) brought in water cannons and fired on us. What should I do to stop the FRU truck? I asked for a (Malaysian) flag from a fellow demonstrator, he gave it to me and I held it against the FRU’s water cannon barrage.
“I had hoped… these people behind are Malaysians, your people, why are you doing this?” he said in an emotional voice in a PAS ceramah over the weekend.
What has the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein got to say for this blatant and flagrant violation of journalisti8c ethics to serve the political agenda of UMNO and Barisan Nasional?
Last Tuesday, the Home Ministry hauled up top editors of three Chinese newspapers as the Barisan Nasional Government was irked by their coverage of the 709 rally as allegedly favourable to the Bersih 2.0 organisers.
The Chinese newspapers covered the 709 factually, truthfully and responsibly unlike New Sunday Times, Berita Minggu and Mingguan Malaysia which either doctored photographs or reports or carried tendentious and biased one-sided account of the 709 rally.
It was been reported that the Home Ministry is following up with “show cause” letters to the three Chinese newspapers.
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? Has the Home Ministry hauled up Utusan Malaysia for its daily staple of lies and falsehoods to poison and undermine inter-racial and inter-religious harmony in Malaysia? Will show-cause letters follow suit?
Are all printed news media required to publish doctored photographs and print biased reports turning them as “lies-paper” rather than newspapers under Najib's 1Malaysia's Transformation Programme?
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor