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Monday, April 30, 2012

‘Probe assault on journalists’

PETALING JAYA: The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has called on Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar to investigate the alleged assault of pressmen during Saturday’s Bersih 3.0 rally.

“The IGP should give an explanation,” said NUJ general secretary V. Anbalagan.

A number of press photographers were allegedly assaulted by police on Saturday. Some were also believed to have been intimidated.

“Why target the press?” Anbalagan asked, and questioned why some of their cameras were confiscated.

He urged journalists and videographers to e-mail their eye-witness accounts to NUJ at so that a formal report could be compiled.

The Association of Editors of Chinese Medium Malaysia president Pook Ah Lek said two Chinese newspaper photographers, Tan Chee Hui from Sin Chew Daily and another from Guang Ming Daily, were beaten up. “The Sin Chew photographer was hit on the back of his head and had his camera taken away, which was returned later. The Guang Ming photographer was beaten quite badly. This should not have happened,” said Pook.

Low Boon Tat, a photographer with The Star, said he was at the Masjid Jamek LRT station at around 7.30pm on Saturday when he was shouted at by policeman for snapping pictures of those being arrested before he was swiftly surrounded by about 10 uniformed personnel.

“I said that I was from the media and they ordered me to delete the photos in my camera,” he said, claiming that his leg was kicked.

“They then knocked my camera against the wall, smashing the lens.”

He said they also threatened to arrest him and dangled a pair of handcuffs in front of him before they took away his camera memory card.

Low lodged a police report at the Tun H.S. Lee police station yesterday.

Another photographer from The Star, P. Nathan said he was surrounded by five people, including policemen in uniform, after he snapped pictures near the Masjid Jamek LRT station.

They threatened to arrest him and seize his camera but he offered to clear his memory card of the images he had taken before they let him go.

Wong Onn Kin, a photographer from Guang Ming Daily, said he was at the Jalan Tun Perak - Jalan Raja intersection when police charged at protesters who had taunted the cops.

“Then, they saw me taking photos and grabbed hold of me before three officers punched the back of my head.

“I identified myself as a pressman but one of them tugged at my media tag until the strap snapped,” Wong said.

He said he was arrested and his camera confiscated. He was taken to a temporary detention centre and released at 9.30pm — minus his camera. He, too, has lodged a police report.

The Star executive director and group chief editor Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai urged the IGP to carry out immediate investigations.

He said there had been previous protests but this was the first time so many photographers had complained about police obstructing them from carrying out their duties.

“This is most disturbing and unfortunate,” he said.

The Malay Mail managing editor Terence Fernandez said its photographer Arif Kartono made a police report, alleging that a group of officers pushed him to the ground and stomped on him while he was taking pictures.

“We are appalled that one of our own has been roughed up by the police while on duty.

“While we understand that the police were under tremendous pressure to contain the situation, their actions in assaulting pressmen who were on the job is inexcusable,” he said.

“The unprovoked actions of these rogue officers do not do justice to the entire force,” he said, adding that a formal complaint would be made to the IGP.


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