Friday, December 07, 2007

CIJ statement: Lift suspension of Tamil deejays

Centre for Independent Journalism
27C Jalan Sarikei, off Jalan Pahang
53000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03 4023 0772, 03 4024 9840
Fax: 03 4023 0769

Press Release
For Immediate Release
4 December 2007

Lift suspension of Tamil deejays

The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and the Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI) are concerned that several presenters of the state-owned Tamil language radio station, MinnalFm, have been taken off the air pending the outcome of an investigation into their alleged
involvement in the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) rally.

On December 4, Tamil language daily Makkal Osai quoted the presenters as saying that they were being investigated for claims that they attended the rally organized by Hindraf on November 25. In the meantime, the seven, K Meenakumari, K Sillalee, V Jamuna, Mahendran Veluplay, Kavirajan Jagarajan, Vijayan Muruti, Dhayalan Sharmugan, are barred from
going on air.

News about the presenters first appeared on December 3 on the front page of the Makkal Osai and on the online news site, both which reported the alleged sacking of the presenters for participating in the rally on December 25. When contacted by CIJ on December 3, the director of the station, Raja Sekaran declined to confirm the reports and answer questions.

The Hindraf rally on November 25 attracted an estimated 30 000 Indians, who marched to the British High Commission to submit a petition claiming their marginalization in the country perpetrated since they were brought into Malaya as indentured labours. The Malaysian government condemned the rally as illegal and dismissed claims that Indians in the country
have been marginalized.

CIJ and WAMI are concerned that suspected involvement in the rally is used as a basis to suspend the presenters. This clearly indicates that the state-owned station views as an offense, involvement of its staffs even in their personal capacity, in public assembly on issues deemed
sensitive to the government.

CIJ and WAMI would like to stress that freedom of assembly is a right guaranteed under the Federal Constitution and the radio presenters should not be discriminated against the right due to their professional relation to the government.

We call upon MinnalFM to suspend the investigation and reinstate the presenters immediately. The action taken against the presenters only create the perception that the government is intolerant towards the democratic rights of it employees.

The Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia (CIJ) aspires for a society that is democratic, just and free, where all people enjoy free media and the freedom to express, seek, and impart information.


Issued by

Gayathry Venkiteswaran
Executive Director, CIJ


Wong Chin Huat
Chairman, WAMI

For more information, please contact Wai Fong at 03 40230772

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