Utusan suspends senior reporter pending inquiry

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal and Melissa Chi
The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 — Utusan Malaysia has gone ahead and suspended senior reporter Hata Wahari pending an inquiry for being highly critical of the Umno-owned daily’s opinion pieces.

It is understood that the suspension will officially take effect this coming Monday, January 17 which is the first day of the domestic inquiry.

“After taking into consideration the seriousness of misconduct allegations against you, the company has decided to suspend your service effective January 17, 2011 until the domestic inquiry on your actions has been completed,” said Utusan’s suspension letter addressed to Hata.

The letter, which was sent to Hata on January 11, stated that the senior reporter would be denied entry into any Utusan office throughout the course of the inquiry, and needed to seek permission from the company management if he wanted to enter the office.

“During the period of your suspension, you are required to be in a place where the company management can contact you, and you are not allowed to leave your neighbourhood,” said the letter.

Hata, who is also president of the National Union of Journalists Malaysia (NUJ) has been attacked by his own company for issuing statements to news portals The Malaysian Insider, Malaysiakini, Merdeka Review, and The Sun newspaper between September 21 and October 14 last year.

In an immediate response, NUJ secretary-general V. Anbalagan said that it was “normal procedure” for employers to suspend their staff pending a public inquiry.

He said however that the union will adopt a “one step at a time” approach first before taking any further action.

“Despite appeals from international organisations such as the The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and local NGOs, Utusan Malaysia was adamant in having a domestic inquiry…so we will see how it goes,” Anbalagan told The Malaysian Insider.

The IFJ has joined a growing chorus here demanding Utusan call off its inquiry on Hata. The NUJ president had recently caused a stir when he urged the authorities to act against Utusan’s editors for stoking racial sentiments in its reports.

Hata also blamed the drop in the national daily’s sales on the editors for pushing what he called racial rhetoric.

IFJ director Jacqueline Park told Utusan last week that Hata was bound to uphold the global reporting body’s code of ethics as union chief.

“No journalist can be disciplined in any way for asserting his or her rights to act according to their conscience,” she had said.

  1. #1 by boh-liao on Saturday, 15 January 2011 - 6:18 pm

    Yeah, 1M’sia got freedom, rights n liberty!
    Hata Wahari suspended n cannot enter any UM office n needed permission fr UM 2 do so
    But BEST of all:
    “During d period of your suspension, U r NOT ALLOWED to leave your neighbourhood
    House arrest? WOW, UM power man! Judge, jury, prosecutor, polis – ALL in 1
    Will Hata Wahari b d new Aung San Suu Kyi n UM d Avatar of Myanmar junta?

  2. #2 by Godfather on Saturday, 15 January 2011 - 6:43 pm

    Utusan is a very strong arm of UMNO. When they say “jump” you must say “how high?”. If you don’t jump, then they can make you jump. Awang Selamat and Ridhuan Tee are good at writing “bye bye” notes afterwards.

  3. #3 by burn on Saturday, 15 January 2011 - 6:56 pm

    hata wahari… gua respek sama lu!
    you got balls!

  4. #4 by yhsiew on Saturday, 15 January 2011 - 7:33 pm

    ///and you are not allowed to leave your neighbourhood,” said the letter.///

    This is the kind of freedom Malaysians have under BN rule.

  5. #5 by boh-liao on Saturday, 15 January 2011 - 7:46 pm

    Beautiful logic n justice, UM
    Awang Selamat n Ridhuan Tea made racist comments n wrote seditious racist articles
    They got no suspension n house arrest
    But patriotic Hata who questioned d racist stand of UM got suspended n house arrest
    What say U, KohTK, CSL, Lies Yakdim?

  6. #6 by drago2008 on Sunday, 16 January 2011 - 12:17 am

    Looks like Utusan has become a microcosm of the wretched junta in Myanmar putting Hata under “house arrest”. Could this be an indication that the BN gomen will have the same idea once they win the next GE. Right now, they are practising this new authoritarian rule via Utusan to see how it pans out.

  7. #7 by Bigjoe on Sunday, 16 January 2011 - 9:10 am

    Newspaper/employer can tell you where you can or cannot go at home? Utusan just lost the right to decide just about anything..

  8. #8 by monsterball on Sunday, 16 January 2011 - 9:40 am

    It all boils own to votes.
    Anything UMNO B feels will make voters run away from them…they will act…just as they also put out false news to please voters…to vote for them.
    Our Govt…will praise Hata if he writes everything good about UMNO B.
    Malaysians are being fed with false hopes and dreams.

  9. #9 by sotong on Sunday, 16 January 2011 - 10:39 am

    Sack him properly and fairly by the law……restriction in his movement for speaking him mind and/or employment matters???

    UM acting with such power and authority…this is a real concern.

  10. #10 by yhsiew on Sunday, 16 January 2011 - 10:58 am

    Would BN apply such “house arrest” tactics to opposition leaders/MPs during GE13? This is worrying!

  11. #11 by k1980 on Sunday, 16 January 2011 - 1:50 pm

    off-topic but very intriguing—-

    Would Ragad Waleed Alkurdi agree to marry 74-year-old Taib Mahmud (who is 46 years her senior) if Taib has only RM3,000 in his bank account like Teoh BH?

    And speaking of TBH, why hasn’t Taib being invited over by the macc to explain how his billions happen to drop from the sky?

  12. #12 by undertaker888 on Sunday, 16 January 2011 - 3:43 pm

    so much for our partly free ranking. It’s to generous. if you watch passion of the Christ, those umno goons are exactly the Sanhedrin types. Those Pharisees and Sadducees. A bunch of hypocrites. generation of vipers.

  13. #13 by tak tahan on Monday, 17 January 2011 - 12:32 am

    Utusan,perkosa,cintanegara,perompak cinta1 are national heroes.They names will be incorporated in the history book as our such an such champion.Si gi na,aiu siu lang!!!!!!!!!

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