KUALA LUMPUR – January 30, 2020: Two journalists strongly disagree with the decision by Khazanah Nasional to lodge a police report over leaked board papers which they consider to be against press freedom.
The board papers on Malaysia Airlines were leaked to Focus Malaysia, which then published them last week.
Khazanah then lodged a police report, claiming that what happened was not a normal leak of information but one that could affect the integrity of its processes.
To this the publication’s editor-in-chief P. Gunasegaram said he could not understand why the report was lodged because things had been leaked to the press before.
“Even cabinet papers were leaked to the media time and time again if it involved public interest,” argued Gunasegaram.
“Plus, the discussions on Malaysia Airlines had been taking place for more than six months now. Many hands have access to the report and the leak could have been done by anyone.”
When queried why the information was leaked, Gunesegaram said he did not know why but he believed that it was done with public interest in mind.
“Malaysia Airlines is expected to run at a loss and will need up to RM21 billion of taxpayers’ money to stay afloat. That is a large sum of money.
“I think the public has the right to know what is being done with their money, therefore this is of public interest,” he said.
Gunasegaram expressed hope that the police report was not an indirect effort to stifle press freedom.
Former Utusan Melayu group chief editor Tan Sri Johan Jaafar agrees that it was not right to lodge the police report.
“In the first place we shouldn’t have the Official Secrets Act. We should be strengthening the Whistle-blowers Act to encourage more people to come forth to report. That is what investigative reporting is all about,” said Johan.