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BERNAMA Should Cease All Legal Actions Against Miss Sydney Yap Xi Ni

[Press Statement]

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) is aware of the recent posting made by Miss Sydney Yap Xi Ni’s Facebook post regarding the working condition as a journalist in BERNAMA and the latter’s impending legal action against Miss Yap for defamation. SUARAM is concern the legal action would create a chilling effect in the whole reporting scene and media environment which may do further damage to the already backsliding free press in Malaysia. SUARAM, therefore, urge BERNAMA to retract all legal actions against Miss Yap and instead focus its attention to address the issues that have been raised by Miss Yap.

Some of the issues that Miss Yap has raised in her Facebook post includes the welfare of news reporters, wage cuts, downsizing of the news programme, staff shortages and a bureaucratic hiring process. From a labour point of view, we believe that these are entirely appropriate and legitimate issues to be raised pertaining to worker rights especially when previous effort by Miss Yap to reach out to the President of Bernama, Senator Ras Adiba, was ignored. Furthermore, Miss Yap’s posting has also indicated that she will not be continue working in the media industry, and thus she is merely sharing her personal work experience and comment about the deteriorating media industry in Malaysia.

It is common knowledge that working as a reporter and journalist in Malaysia is challenging and has proven to be no easy task. Malaysia’s press freedom performance is still only rank 119 among 180 countries according to Reporters Without Borders. Aside from working in an environment where press freedom is not guaranteed, the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent economic downturn has also pushed the media industry into more perilous state where the welfare of reporters are regularly being cut or not prioritized. It is also time Malaysians must recognise the importance of journalists and reporters where they have been performing the duty of the watchdog to those that wields significant political power.

A healthy and independent media industry would effectively allow the public to make informed decisions, hold leader accountable and ensure a diversity of opinions and information. It is with that we hope that the media would continue to listen to the voice of fellow journalists and reporters for they are the one working on the ground and reporting on news to the wider public.

SUARAM stands in solidarity with Miss Sydney Yap Xi Ni and once again, urged BERNAMA to retract all legal actions against its departing worker.

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