Those Who Harass Journalists Always Have Something To Hide

The editor-in-chief of health news portal CodeBlue has maintained that their series of four stories on findings from an independent inquiry into the Johor Baru’s Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA) fire were based on declassified information.

Boo Su-Lyn, who wrote the four articles published in March, was yesterday summoned to the Putrajaya district police headquarters for questioning in relations to a probe believed to be under the Official Secrets Act 1972.

“I maintain that the report was declassified from the OSA before the publication of my articles on CodeBlue,” Boo told Malaysiakini today.

The articles in question quoted then Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad as saying that findings detailed in the 225-report sighted by CodeBlue have been declassified.

The findings were based on an independent inquiry – of the 2016 incident which claimed six lives – conducted by a seven-member committee led by former Court of Appeal judge Mohd Hishamudin Yunus.

Our comment

On what possible grounds could the report of an enquiry into a hospital fire merit classification as an ‘official secret’?

And what subject could have better grounds for investigation by the media in the public interest than a fire at a public service where people expect to be healed and protected but as a result of which six people ended up dead?

When people in power use the police to harass journalists in cases like this the public quite rightly jumps to the only possible conclusion, which is that people in power have something to hide.

Were negligence or corruption found to have contributed to the loss of life from this fire? If not, why cover up the findings of an enquiry whose WHOLE PURPOSE is to learn lessons from the incident which can be publicised to prevent further similar tragedies?

Regimes which bully and harass journalists are merely proving to everyone that they are unable justify their own conduct as revealed by those journalists. Otherwise they would simply provide the facts and answers rather than arresting, intimidating and seeking to silence reporting of the outcome of an official enquiry.

The Centre for Investigative Journalism has noted an upsurge of such cases since the Coup Coalition snatched power and suspended parliament – it defines the moment.

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