Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has taken the National Union of Journalists Malaysia (NUJ) to task for not taking a firm stand on journalists’ groups which had received money from an 1MDB outfit in the run-up to the 2013 polls.
He said the union did not take a “firm and principled” stand on these groups knowing it could affect their fairness and neutrality in reporting.
Recently, NUJ had said press groups were free to receive donations from anyone but must make sure the donors did not ask for favours in return.
It said this following Lim’s claim that three Chinese press groups in Penang took a total of RM150,000 in donations from the 1Malaysia Penang Welfare Club before the elections in 2013.
Lim claimed the donations had influenced certain news organisations in their coverage of him as then Penang chief minister and were determined to mar his re-election bid.
One of the groups has admitted receiving RM50,000 and plans to return it to the government, while the two other groups have remained silent.
Yesterday, Lim criticised NUJ for not censuring the groups, saying the donations would “adversely jeopardise” their reporting and ability to report without fear or favour.
“Journalists will gain respect from the community if they are truthful, professional and neutral in their reporting and free from outside influence, especially monetary considerations.
“But NUJ thinks it is not wrong for their members to take 1MDB money. For NUJ to continue with the culture and mindset of the previous regime, it only does great disservice to journalism and the freedom of the press at large,” he told FMT.
Lim said he continued to receive unfair coverage in some Chinese newspapers “but, fortunately, the readers are not quick to make their judgments based on the reporting”.
He said this proved claims by some in Umno and PAS that he controlled the Chinese media were not true.
NUJ, which has about 1,300 members comprising journalists and photographers from the print media, declined to comment.