Ambiga: Not Too Late for Malaysia to Tell Al Jazeera Its Side of the Story

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It is not too late for Putrajaya to respond to a contentious Al Jazeera documentary which has angered the government, said Ambiga Sreenevasan.

In a tweet, the former president of the Bar Council pointed out that the international satellite news channel said it had sought Putrajaya’s response before it aired its documentary Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown.

The channel said it had contacted Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin and their deputies for a comment before the show was aired on July 5.

The report has earned Putarajaya’s displeasure for its scrutiny of Malaysia’s handling of illegal workers under the movement control order (MCO) introduced to control the spread of Covid -19.

“It was reported that apparently relevant ministers refused to be interviewed by Al Jazeera. Pity isn’t it, since that would have been the best opportunity to present their side,” Ambiga said in a tweet.

Kamal Ariffin/TMI

“It’s not too late. They can still do it.”

She was responding to Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin who had shared on Twitter the comments of social media users criticising the documentary.

Several other ministers have denounced the documentary.

Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob demanded an apology from Al Jazeera.

“I demand that Al Jazeera apologise for the misleading information and report. Of course we would act on illegals. Even if they had tested negative for the virus, they would still be detained for breaking the law.


“I dare Al Jazeera to name one country that would not take any action against migrant workers or people without proper documentation,” said the spokesman for the National Security Council.

“We act according to the law. Under the Immigration Act, anyone without documentation or without valid documents can be detained.

“No children were cuffed, and they were placed with their parents in a separate cell, not together with other individuals,” he said in refuting a claim in the documentary that children were handcuffed by the authorities.

Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin also defended raids against undocumented foreigners during the MCO period, telling Al Jazeera that “Malaysians come first”.

Mohd Sahar Misni/The Star

“We don’t take to heart what the foreign media says, as they always like to spin nonsensical stories,” Hamzah told reporters.

Health Minister Dr Adham Baba has also slammed the allegations in the documentary, saying the taken under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 were meant to protect both locals and foreigners from the coronavirus.

Yesterday, Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador said the cops were investigating Al Jazeera over the report.

He said the journalists would soon be called in for questioning.

Norafifi Ehsan/The Star

“They are being investigated under the Penal Code and Sedition Act. We will see if they get charged after they answer some questions,” Hamid said in a doorstop interview in Putrajaya today.

Several police reports have been lodged but the top cop said he did not know how many. – TMI