Investigate removal of Lokman as NST group chief editor: NUJM

Investigate removal of Lokman as NST group chief editor: NUJM

Several news agencies have folded from alleged political interference, warns union

KUALA LUMPUR – The National Union of Journalists Malaysia (NUJM) has expressed concern over news reports regarding the sudden change of editorial leadership at the New Straits Times (NST).

NUJM general secretary Chin Sung Chew said the plan to remove Ahmad Lokman Mansor as the publication’s group chief editor is shocking as the decision was made allegedly due to political interference.

“We urge the group as well as the management of the organisation to address the issues arising, as it affects the integrity and reputation of the company, which has a 177-year-old history in newsprint.

“These concerns as well as the petition circulating against the new group editor’s appointment have to be thoroughly investigated and brought to the attention of shareholders and the board, to ensure that the company can continue serving the people and nation,” he said in a statement today.

Chin also cautioned that several news agencies in the past have gone defunct due to alleged political interference.

“Shareholders and the board should swiftly meet with reporters to prevent further disharmony and conflict.

“In addition, the government should give media more freedom and room to practice freedom of speech without political interference,” he said.

Yesterday, The Vibes had reported that Lokman is slated to be axed as NST group editor following alleged political interference from Umno bigwigs, namely former second finance minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani and Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Seri Ab Rauf Yusoh.

Rauf has denied his involvement, saying he was not involved in any way or form in the appointment and dismissal of key personnel in NST and its parent company Media Prima Bhd.

Lokman’s replacement, Farrah Naz Karim, a journalist who formerly served NST as its associate editor, is presently an executive editor at its parent company Media Prima.

According to a statement issued by NSTP group managing editor Mustapha Kamil Mohd Janor yesterday, the assignment of Farrah to NST as its group editor is in line with the group’s strategy to further enhance its content offering.

“Her extensive experience in print journalism combined with her experience in television would be invaluable as Media Prima moves forward in consolidating its news operations across its media platforms.

Aliran urges PM to ensure non-interference in media

Meanwhile, human rights advocacy group Aliran expressed alarm at the recent incidents, which it said have dire consequences for press freedom and freedom of expression in the country.

The NGO, which also focuses on civil liberties, pointed to Lokman’s removal from his position owing to alleged interference from Umno big guns.

Another case concerns criminal defamation charges brought against former Edge editor-in-chief Ahmad Azam Mohd Aris and contributing editor M Shanmugam, it added.

“We are dismayed to learn that Lokman, who had made positive changes to the media group in recent years, was removed because he apparently did not adhere to the wishes of the group’s owner, Umno,” Aliran said in a statement.

“It appears that professionalism has been edged out by political expediency. This is abominable to the integrity of the journalistic profession and media industry,” it claimed.

“Brazen political propaganda has no place in a media outfit meant to serve the larger interests of society, which should be governed by journalistic ethics.

“Some quarters have alleged that the change at the top of the organisation is in preparation for the coming general election, when party-affiliated media are expected to sway the hearts and minds of voters for political gain.”

On the charges faced by the editors of The Edge, Aliran said it is shocking that the authorities have intervened in what should be a civil dispute.

It said that the Edge, which focuses on the stock market and corporate sector, has a duty to report matters important to the investing public.

“We urge the Ismail Sabri administration to keep to its promise to not interfere with press freedom.

“It would be a real shame if the opening up of the Malaysian media in recent years is cancelled out by actions such as these,” Aliran said.

“The government’s deafening silence in the face of such regressive developments is truly disappointing.”

source – The Vibes

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