Friday, February 20, 2009

Boycott media which sensationalise Wong issue

The Bar Council has called on Malaysians to reject media organisations which spread salacious private information relating to the nude photographs controversy involving Selangor executive councillor Elizabeth Wong.

“The media must uphold the highest principles of responsible, ethical and respectful journalism, and accede to Wong’s heartfelt plea to be left alone,” said council chairperson S Ambiga in a statement today.

bar council judiciary dinner 170408 ambigaAmbiga (left) urged the media to refrain from further sensationalising the issue and to allow the police investigations to be completed.

Wong yesterday left the country, saying she could no longer stand the immense stress brought on by the controversy. She also worryingly alluded to the existence of more lewd photographs and possibly a video clip.

In a moving SMS message to her close friends before she left, Wong wrote: “Please remember me as the person I was, not what they are now making me to be.”

The police have earlier this week recorded statements from two Malay Mail journalists and two other journalists from The Sun in connection with the case.

malay mail article on elizabeth wong nude photos 160209Both newspapers kicked off a media frenzy over the controversy when they reported about the existence of nude photographs involving Wong, believed to be taken by a former lover.

A number of newspapers have since went on to speculate, among others, that Wong’s ex-boyfriend had abused and blackmail her. There were also suggestions that the embattled politician’s had a string of lovers.

Since the news broke, journalists set up camp at both Wong’s house as well as that of Hilmi Malek’s, a former boyfriend whom the police has sought for questioning. Hilmi is believed to be in Indonesia.

Bar Council’s forum of privacy

Ambiga expressed disappointment that Wong was unrelentingly hounded by the media until she was compelled to seek sanctuary overseas.

elizabeth wong press conference on her offer of resignation from selangor exco post 170209 03“We appeal to all right-thinking Malaysians to express our revulsion and outrage at the unscrupulous conduct of the culprits. This unacceptable invasion of an individual’s private life is an injustice that affects us all.”

She said that while the laws are inadequate to deal with the breach of privacy, the public should take personal responsibility to put a stop to the spread of such nude photographs.

“For example, if someone sends you this information by instant text messaging or by email, delete it without opening it and discourage its further circulation,” said Ambiga.

In response to the issue, the Bar Council is organising a public forum next Friday to discuss the controversy and whether legal safeguards exist to protect an individual’s right to privacy.

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