Patriot takes a serious view of the report of an incident where a security guard on duty at the Immigration Department premises at the UTC building along Pudu Road in Kuala Lumpur threatened two journalists from thevibes.com and snatched their mobile phone and barred them from their assigned reporting duty.
Patriot supports the call from various concerned citizens for appropriate action to be taken by the authorities and to put an immediate stop such attacks on journalists.
We uphold to the letter the constitutional and democratic right that, as much as the public have a right to truthful information, the media must not be hampered from its sacrosanct duty to inform in equal measure.
The video evidence widely circulated on social media clearly indicates the security guard who violated the space, security and safety of the journalists on duty and denied them the right to carry out their sacrosanct responsibilities. It raises several deep-seated concerns that demand immediate attention from the government, which resolve to curb such undemocratic, intimidating actions permanently.
It is an unacceptable explanation from the authorities to claim that the security guard is not a staff member of the Immigration Department and therefore they are absolved of any wrongdoing.
The fact is the Immigration Department, in contracting a private security company to provide services at its place of business, should be held equally accountable for such aggression, putting at risk public safety and violating media rights, as was displayed by the security guard.
We are also disturbed by the body language and the attire and grooming of the security guard. We wonder whether this is the new standard which appears more thuggish than trained, disciplined security personnel.
In the first place, what right does a security guard have to confiscate the personal belonging or working tool of the journalist? If this is not a serious violation, then we invite the police to enlighten us.
We cannot treat such intimation tactics lightly and dismiss these as yet another ‘isolated’ incident.
If we do not address this incident in a responsible, accountable manner, then a precedent is set and a culture of violation of our rights seeps in. This does not augur well for any government.
Certainly, this is not the sole and first reported incident of hired security guards taking the law into their own hands or situation where government departments contracting such services remain absolved of any blame.
Perhaps the government should seriously revamp the entire practice of using or contracting private security guard services. Instead, it should either employ retired police or military service personnel, who are better informed about our rights as citizens, or even review the smart option of expanding the polis bantuan (auxiliary police) unit.
Hence, in condemning this uncalled for violation, Patriot demands a permanent remedy from the authorities or the relevant ministry.
Retired Brigadier General Dato’ Mohamed Arshad Raji is president of the National Patriots Association (Patriot)