Protecting journalists: media company refuses to reveal writers’ names to cops
Editors face charges in relation to articles regarding alleged penny stock manipulations
KUALA LUMPUR – A local business and financial publication has stood firm against police demands to provide details on writers behind articles regarding alleged penny stock manipulations – now the subject of a criminal defamation case.
The Edge Media Group publisher and group chief executive officer Datuk Ho Kay Tat claimed that during four separate meetings last year between police and its editors, the latter were “repeatedly told that (they) have to provide” the names of journalists involved in two articles.
“It was conveyed to the police why we cannot provide the names of any journalists for safety reasons,” he said in a statement today.
“We cited an incident in 2018 when a Bursa Malaysia senior officer from the market surveillance department was the victim of an acid attack, believed to be linked to an investigation into a market manipulation case.”
He stressed that the articles – “Hidden Hands Behind Penny Stocks Surge Under Scrutiny” (April 12, 2021) and “Hidden Hands Behind Penny Stock Surge” (September 21, 2020) – had been published without bylines to “ensure the safety of our journalists”.
Additionally, he said that the editors had given their statements to an investigating officer (IO) from the Brickfields district police headquarters, during which they had defended the published articles.
“In their statements to the IO, our editors said that extensive research had been done to put together the articles, involving mainly data and information obtained from Bursa Malaysia and company annual reports,” he stressed.
He claimed that their statements were taken after a police report was lodged by Metronic Global Bhd non-executive director Datuk Kua Khai Shyuan.
Earlier today, it was reported that former editor-in-chief of The Edge, Ahmad Azam Mohd Aris, was charged with two counts of criminal defamation over the two articles and had claimed trial to both charges at the Petaling Jaya magistrates’ court.
The publication’s contributing editor, Shanmugam Murugasu, who is currently overseas, was also jointly accused in one of the charges but was granted a discharge not amounting to acquittal pending his return to the country.
The charges were filed under Section 500 of the Penal Code on defamation and carries a prison sentence of up to two years, or a fine or both.
Commenting on the charges, Ho asserted that the publication has a duty to its readers to deliver relevant news, especially since many people have lost money due to collapsing stock prices.
“As a media that reports on the stock market and corporate sector extensively, we have a responsibility to highlight important matters to the investing public – including alerting them about how stock prices are being manipulated,” he said.
“We are, therefore, baffled as to why police and the deputy public prosecutor’s office of Kuala Lumpur are pressing defamation charges against us for informing investors about stock market manipulation.”
He opined that “if the complainant, who is a private businessman, feels that we have defamed him, police and DPP should ask him to file a civil suit against us instead of using public resources.”
The two articles alleged that a group of individuals acting in concert – who control a number of publicly listed companies – are manipulating penny stocks.
In one of the reports, it was claimed that the authorities were looking into the individuals over the alleged offence, as well as other suspected crimes involving asset-shuffling exercises, siphoning of funds from companies, and money-laundering activities.
source – The Vibes