The Editors’ Association of Chinese Medium of Malaysia (EACMM) has protested against Wisma Putra’s decision to bar Chinese media outlets from covering the meeting between Foreign Minister Anifah Aman and family members of Malaysian diplomats stranded in North Korea.
Wisma Putra’s invitation only listed 11 English and Bahasa Malaysia news outlets, citing lack of space at the Diplomacy and Foreign Relations Institute in Kuala Lumpur, where the meeting took place yesterday.
Nanyang Siang Pau reporters who were at outside the meeting room were eventually allowed in after they protested.
“As the Kim Jong-nam case attracted world and local attention, Chinese media have the right to report the meeting. This right should not be violated.
“It is hard to believe that limited space, as the foreign minister’s press secretary pointed out, is the reason for not inviting Chinese media to cover,” it said.
Pyongyang has barred three Malaysian diplomats and six family members from leaving North Korea, after Malaysia expelled the republic’s envoy.
The envoy, Kang Chol, was kicked out over his “rude remarks” which disparaged Malaysian investigation into the death of Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un.
The media outlets invited to cover the Wisma Putra event were:
– Astro Awani;
– Utusan Malaysia;
– Berita Harian;
– The Star;
– The New Straits Times;
– Harian Metro;
– Bernama; and
– The Malaysia Gazette.
Not allowing even a single Chinese-language media outlet to cover the event goes against the norm, said EACMM.
It added that most Chinese-language media oulets attend Wisma Putra’s press calls because they consider the ministry’s events to be important.
“The association urged Anifah to view the issue seriously. This is to protect the rights of Chinese media reportage and Chinese readers’ rights to know.
“This must not be repeated again, as a show of respect to the Chinese press,” EACCM said.
Conventionally, Wisma Putra’s invitations for press coverage are open to all media organisations, but the ministry may limit coverage to “official media only” for some events such as visits by heads of states.
Photographs of Anifah’s meeting with the family members were distributed after the event.
In a statement late Sunday, Wisma Putra said it “regrets the oversight”.
“Given the oversight, the ministry wishes to reassure that there was no deliberate element of discrimination contrary to claims made.
“The ministry will ensure that no such oversight will occur in the future,” it said. – Malaysiakini