Honour journalists killed in line of duty, says editor
Saturday May 3, 2014

SHAH ALAM: Journalists who were killed in the line of duty should be honoured for their ultimate contributions and sacrifices made for their society and country, said a high-ranking media professional from a newspaper organisation based in Thailand.

Bangkok Post editor-in-chief Pichai Chuensuksawadi said it was evident that journalists risked or lost their lives while on duty to expose wrongdoings and injustices within the societies whom they served.

"To me personally, the most important point of World Press Freedom Day today is to honour those journalists who have lost their lives because they did their job of seeking the truth.

"The lives of these journalists were taken because they pursued a principle which we all cherish," he said in his keynote address at a forum entitled 'Fostering Freedom of Expression' (Media Freedom for a Better Future: Shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda) held in conjunction with World Press Freedom Day.

Bernama general manager Datuk Yong Soo Heong attended the event.

Chuensuksawadi said he himself risked his life ducking mortar attacks when he covered border clashes between Myanmar troops and Karen minority rebels along the Thai-Myanmar border.

"As an editor, I had been interrogated by Special Branch police and spent one day in jail while waiting for bail in fighting one of many criminal defamation cases filed against me.

"But my experiences are nothing compared to the journalists murdered because of their profession.

"How many journalists can say they are prepared to continue doing their jobs despite the threat of violence and death? How many are prepared to make ultimate sacrifice? To me, it is very important to honour journalists who had made the ultimate sacrifice," he said.

Chuensuksawadi said the World Press Freedom Day was being held for more than 20 years and yet despite repeated pleas, media operations in many countries were still being censored, fined, suspended and even closed down besides journalists, editors and publishers being harassed, attacked and detained.

He said based on statistics since 1992 till now, 1,052 journalists had been killed in the line of duty across the globe.

According to Chuensuksawadi, the rise and spread of the Internet and social media platforms had allowed people to disseminate information and express their views and opinions virtually instantaneously.

Yong, one of the panelist at the forum, said people especially from the country which had multi-ethnic and religious society should be matured enough to understand issues brought up by journalists to ensure greater press freedom in the country.

He said by being matured and getting the relevant information in hand, people could make informed decisions.

He said media organisations should have more researchers to assist reporters to ask questions during press conferences.

"There should be a paradigm shift in media operations by having more researchers who can help the reporters from the print and broadcast media," he added.