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by : BTF

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Posted by singamaraja

Hata says to remain NUJ chief

May 03, 2011
Nurul Izzah and Hata (right) speak to the press after meeting ministry officials. — Picture by Jack Ooi
PUTRAJAYA, May 3 — Mohamed Hata Wahari said today he will remain the president of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Malaysia until his brainchild, Utusan Rakyat, gets a publishing permit.

Hata was recently sacked from Utusan Malaysia for making remarks critical of the Umno-owned newspaper’s editorial slant.

But he vowed today to continue leading the union for greater media freedom.

Hata said he was terminated from his senior journalist post on April 21, a week after the Umno-owned paper’s disciplinary inquiry said he was guilty of breaching the terms of his contract.

“This is my fight to see that the media is ethical and responsible and YB (Nurul Izzah Anwar) is one of the advisers for the editorial team for Utusan Rakyat, so this paper’s concept, even though from the editorial team, the advisory board will advise, or if the stories are against reporter’s ethics, the advisory board will act on its own,” Hata told reporters here after a meeting with a representative for the Home Ministry.

He said the meeting was to ensure that the ministry could give space to ethical, responsible and unbiased media and to explain the “process of Utusan Rakyat”.

“We asked KDN (Home Ministry) to approve the publication of Utusan Rakyat. I explained to them that with Utusan Rakyat, we want to be pro-rakyat not just pro-governing party or pro-opposition party, BN or Pakatan Rakyat,” he said.

Hata said the representative from the Home Ministry, publishing secretary Datuk Abdul Aziz, had pledged to consider the application.

Nurul Izzah, a PKR vice-president, said she was hopeful about getting an approval to publish the weekly and to use the name Utusan Rakyat.

“They cannot justify why we should take it back, aside from the possibility of confusion,” she said, referring to Utusan Malaysia.

“I think we must give more respect and recognition to Malaysians they are much better versed in the language than some ministers so I believe they can discern accordingly,” she said.

Hata said the ministry was concerned that the public might confuse the bipartisan weekly with the Umno-owned daily but stressed that name Utusan Rakyat was the “soul” of the paper.

“I will let go of my position as NUJ president if the permit is approved and if I’m the editor in chief.

“So we’ll wait for KDN’s approval,” he said.

Hata said the Utusan letter dated April 21 said the three-man domestic inquiry panel had decided to sack him with immediate effect for making statements to online news portals that damaged the credibility of the newspaper.

“After taking into account factors presented during the domestic inquiry and the circumstances surrounding the charges, the company has no choice but to terminate you with immediate effect from this letter’s date of issue,” read the eight-page letter sent to Hata.

Hata has 14 days from the notice date to appeal the decision.


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