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‘Stop blame game on the media’

PUTRAJAYA: Journalists and press groups criticised Anti-Corruption Advisory Board (ACAB) chairman Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang for blaming the media for “misreporting” the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) share ownership controversy.

Abu Zahar had said the media’s coverage of his press conference on Jan 5 on the share trading debacle involving MACC chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki had given the public a “wrong perception” of what he wanted to present.

Veteran journalist Tan Sri Johan Jaafar said blaming the media was unbecoming of Abu Zahar, adding that the ACAB chairman should resign.

“I am gutted at Abu Zahar’s action of blaming the media for his own debacle during the press conference on Jan 5 where he only has himself to blame for the disaster he created.

“Blaming the media for his own failure is irresponsible. He should respectfully resign from his position immediately as demanded by many quarters,” said Johan.

Prominent journalist Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai said the media should continue to play its role fairly and professionally.

“The media should function as a watchdog, but don’t let us be the scapegoat,” he said.

At the same time, he agreed that everyone should not be unfairly prejudged or be put on trial by the media.

“One should argue any case persuasively with the facts and figures, and not by subtle threats or intimidation,” he added.

The Editors’ Association (Chinese Medium) of Malaysia president Kuik Cheng Kang said Abu Zahar should not underestimate the readers’ ability in reading news and assessing its accuracy.

“Please do not look down on readers and blame the media instead of yourself for committing the error. This is an irresponsible act,” he said.

He added that Abu Zahar should be accountable for his words and behaviour.

Kuik said he should also issue an apology for the wrong choice of words, adding that the media should not be made a scapegoat.

He added that the association also urged Abu Zahar to apologise to the media nationwide.

Press groups Gerakan Media Marah (Geramm) and the National Union of Journalists Malaysia (NUJ), meanwhile, said that Abu Zahar’s press conference yesterday did not give an avenue for journalists to obtain a better portrayal of the situation.

Geramm said it was regrettable that the ACAB chief did not allow questions for the press conference, which did not help the media in getting more clarification on the matter.

“Having a clear, interactive and responsive press involvement is needed to ensure the transparency and accountability of such public institutions,” it said in a statement.

NUJ said the blame game should not be put on the press just because things turn bad.

“If Tan Sri Abu Zahar feels that certain reports are not true or inaccurate, the NUJ is asking for him to point the error out.

“Journalists should be given full access to ask questions at press conferences so they can obtain clarification on any issue.

“Avoiding answering media questions or preventing journalists from attending press conferences is denying the right to information,” it added.

Yesterday, Abu Zahar held a second press conference in a week on Azam’s share ownership controversy. This time, the press conference was a brief 15-minute affair where Abu Zahar read from a prepared text and did not take any questions from the press.

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