ON 26 Feb 2012, Kwong Wah Yit Poh journalists Adam Chew and Lee Hong Chun were injured in an attack while covering a demonstration in Penang against the Lynas rare earth refinery. Chew and Lee were both hit on the head by a group appearing to be Umno supporters who had gathered to heckle the anti-Lynas demonstration.
The scuffle broke out just as Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had finished speaking, and ended up with Chew receiving eight stitches on his right hand.
So whose fault was it that the journalists got injured? The Nut Graph compiles some of the theories.
The journalist’s fault
“It turned out that the Chinese man with the long hair is a journalist.
“In the incident, not even one journalist who held a camera or video [camera] was hit or injured.
“What is baffling is why this man [who] claims [to be a] journalist [was] wearing a green t-shirt just like the anti-Lynas [demonstrators] without holding a camera?”
Bukit Gelugor Umno division vice-chief Dr Novandri Hasan Basri, who accused Chew of provoking Umno supporters into attacking him. (Source: Journalist provoked us, claims Umno leader, Malaysiakini, 27 Feb 2012)
Lim Guan Eng’s fault
“Before Lim (Guan Eng) came, the situation was peaceful, but after he came, it turned chaotic. We do not know what he said about Umno to provoke those men.
“We do not agree with the act, but we hope the police will investigate all the people involved including Lim.”
State Umno deputy chief Datuk Musa Sheikh Fadzir, saying police should investigate whether the scuffle involved provocation by Lim. He said the possibility that Lim had organised his supporters to provoke the attack against the anti-Lynas supporters could not be ruled out. (Source: Penang BN: Guan Eng may have provoked fracas, Malaysiakini, 27 Feb 2012)
“As the head of the state security council, [Lim Guan Eng] failed to informed the police that such an event was taking place.”
State Barisan Nasional working committee chairperson Dr Teng Hock Nam, who said Lim should bear full responsibility for what happened during the demonstration on 26 Feb 2012. (Source: Penang BN: Guan Eng may have provoked fracas, Malaysiakini, 27 Feb 2012)
The organisers’ fault
“The organisers only contacted us at the last minute, when the situation was becoming tense, so we sent a group.
“They should know that anything can happen during such a protest. Everyone wants freedom of speech. They want to express themselves in public places. Anything can happen.”
“We want freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, are we prepared for it?”
State police chief officer Datuk Ayub Yaacob, who reportedly said the anti-Lynas demonstration organisers were “arrogant” for not informing police about the event. He said as the police were not informed, they had not sent a team to monitor the event.
Ayub said in such situations, the organisers should be responsible for the safety of participants at the rally. He said if organisers did not want the police involved, then they must be prepared to face such situations.
Police have reportedly identified two people who were involved in the attack, but no arrests have been made to date. (Source: Penang CPO: Anti-Lynas organisers arrogant, Malaysiakini, 27 Feb 2012)
The assaulters’ fault?
“The NUJ condemns an unruly group, believed to be supporters of Perkasa and Umno, for assaulting two media members who were on duty to cover the solidarity gathering for the Himpunan Hijau in Penang on Sunday evening.
“The reporters were assigned to cover the event and I am sure the public, including the group, could identify members of the press on duty.”
National Union of Journalists (NUJ) president Chin Sung Chew calling on the police to take decisive action against those who injured the two journalists. Chin said there was “absolutely no reason” to attack the journalists, and that NUJ would be monitoring the case closely. (Source: NUJ slams attacks, wants police action, Malaysiakini, 27 Feb 2012)