The police are investigating several members of the press for entering a quarantine center on Monday to document junior doctors going on strike over their contract employment.
Police said today that one of them had made a live video from inside a hall at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang, or MAEPS, where a planned walkout was canceled after doctors received threats. That unidentified person, along with five other media practitioners from various outlets were reported to the police for intruding property.
“One of the media practitioners made a live video while in the MAEPS’ hall,” Sepang Deputy Police Chief Md Noor Aehawan Mohamed said in a statement, adding that the report was filed by the MAEPS management yesterday.
“So far, the police have recorded statements of 17 health ministry staff, including doctors and nurses who were on duty during the incident to assist the police investigation and to confirm the media presence in the hall,” he added. Media personnel apparently entered a hall that was housing nearly 500 female patients under COVID-19 quarantine.
Separately, at least 12 MAEPS doctors were questioned at the quarantine center in the wee hours of this morning, from midnight to nearly 4am, according to a lawyer representing those who participated in the strike there. The lawyer, Asheeq Ali, said that the police will continue to question doctors today. He also claimed that a police complaint was filed by a director at MAEPS.
“Whatever the reason is, taking statements in the early hours of the morning for four hours when they are on duty is an act of intimidation,” Asheeq said online. “IT IS COMPLETELY UNCALLED FOR!”
“They are DOCTORS, not CRIMINALS!” he added.
The strike at MAEPS took place for some time before it got canceled. Social media exchanges that circulated online showed threats of arrests towards MAEPS doctors who participated in the Hartal Doktor Kontrak (contract doctors on strike) movement.
Junior doctors across hospitals such as Sungai Buloh Hospital and Kuala Lumpur Hospital staged a walkout yesterday to protest job insecurities and unfair terms in their contracts. Many wore black and held up placards in public as police officers tried to intimidate and disrupt the demonstrations.
Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil noted on Twitter that Health Minister Adham Baba’s assurance that the police will not investigate protesting doctors was “worthless” since he did not have the power to stop police investigations, which fall under the purview of the home and prime ministers – both of whom have been quiet about the strike.
This article, Malaysia police investigate reporters over doctors’ strike at MAEPS, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.