|Domestic inquiry into Utusan’s Hata called off|
|Tuesday, 18 January 2011 12:41pm|
by Karen Arukesamy
PETALING JAYA (Jan 17, 2011): The domestic inquiry into Utusan Malaysia senior journalist Hata Wahari was today called off after the prosecution officer refused to allow the National Union of Journalist (NUJ) president to have a representative or record the proceedings.
“There were two issues when the inquiry started at about 10.45am. One, I asked if NUJ secretary general V Anbalagan can represent me but this was turned down because the panel chairman Mohd Bashir Abdul Rahim said that outsiders are not allowed in a domestic inquiry,” Hata, who was elected as NUJ president last year, told theSun when contacted.
Hata said he then turned on his digital recorder and told the panel that he would defend himself.
“The prosecution officer however did not allow me to record. And when I insisted my point, he just called off the inquiry and said he would send me a letter,” Hata said, adding that he is unsure whether the inquiry has been adjourned or dismissed.
“I don’t know what has happened. But what they are doing now in unjust. Yet I will continue fighting for media freedom. The mainstream media must return to bringing credible news and not just be government propaganda,” he stressed.
Hata, who has been a senior journalist at Utusan since 1995, was hauled up on charges of going against the company’s interest in his criticism of the company and comments on media freedom made in his capacity as union president.
Hata also reportedly said he plans to station himself outside the office under a makeshift tent to continue to show that “Utusan is still in my heart and I just want it to serve the public not the government”.
He also said the Utusan Malaysia branch of the NUJ would organise a protest at the end of the month to coincide with the “50th anniversary of 1961 when it became the voice of Umno”.
Anbalagan, when contacted said although the inquiry was called off within 30 minutes of convening after Mohd Bashir, who is Utusan marketing general manager, denied Hata any representation, it is still “unclear” as to exactly why it was called off.
The inquiry, which was initially scheduled on Jan 6, for alleged misconduct, was postponed to today.