Surendran slams "SINISTER" MOVE by the police to issue special press tags for Jan 12 rally

Surendran slams "SINISTER" MOVE by the police to issue special press tags for Jan 12 rally
I refer to the move by the police to issue special tags to journalists covering the opposition-led 'Kebangkitan Rakyat' rally on 12 January. This move is sinister, unlawful and restrictive of the freedom of the press.
The media must be free to cover news events at any place without hindrances or cumbersome procedures. Neither the police nor any other state body should be allowed to control or restrict the press in their coverage of public events by the issuance of tags or passes. The usual press tags worn by journalists are adequate for purposes of identification.
Gives police control over the media
The issuance of the tags create a dangerous precedent by which the authorities could control the dissemination of news by giving or withholding special passes. This is a real danger under the rule of the BN government, which already exercises excessive and undemocratic controls over the print and electronic media.
This move also runs foul of section 24 of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 which imposes a duty upon the government and police authority to allow media representatives 'reasonable access' to places of assembly. Pressuring the media to wear police-issued tags is not 'reasonable access'. It also contravenes Article 10(1)(a) of the Federal Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression, including press freedom.
Poor excuse
It is a poor excuse to say that the tags are necessary to prevent a repeat of the assaults or interference with journalists by police which occurred during the Bersih 3.0 rally. The correct response is to expeditiously investigate and prosecute police personnel involved in criminal misconduct upon media or the public during assemblies.
Police training modules must also be improved and respect for fundamental rights among police personnel strengthened. We call upon the BN government and the IGP to urgently withdraw this new restriction upon the media.
N SURENDRAN

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