South China Morning Post reporter Tashny Sukumaran, who was quizzed by federal police for her tweets on the May 1 immigration raid at the Selangor Mansion, has been named by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on a list of information heroes for her reporting during the Covid-19 pandemic.
RSF, a global journalism watchdog based in Paris, has put together a list of 30 coronavirus “information heroes” – comprising journalists, whistleblowers and media outlets – whose courage, perseverance or capacity to innovate has helped to circulate reliable and vital information during this period.
The list includes the White House press corps for its persistence in grilling US President Donald Trump and the ill-fated Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang who was reprimanded for trying to highlight news of the outbreak and later succumbed to the disease.
Also highlighted was Bangladeshi cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore who is facing a life sentence for “spreading rumours and misinformation about the coronavirus situation” in the country. While fellow Bangladeshi Salim Akash was detained in Jordan for his efforts to report on conditions faced by Bangladeshi migrant workers there.
Swaziland reporter Eugene Dube who was forced to flee to neighbouring South Africa after being assaulted by police for his reporting and threatened with charges of “high treason” against King Mswati III, was another cited.
“Some people have taken such big risks to report the reality of the pandemic that they have died as a result, while others have disappeared or have been jailed,” said RSF director Christophe Deloire.
He went on to highlight that 13 journalists died from the virus in the Ecuadorean city of Guayaquil alone.
In Tashny’s case, she was questioned by Bukit Aman for two hours on May 6 under Section 504 of the Penal Code and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for her tweets about the immigration raid.
This was despite Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah’s instruction for the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to drop its own investigation.
When contacted about this probe, Tashny’s lawyer New Sin Yew told Malaysiakini that “the authorities have not contacted us since the questioning last month. We do not anticipate them to do so because there is no offence committed by Tashny. It’s plain harassment.”