Police probing newscaster over comment on RM50,000 compound, confirms Astro Awani

PETALING JAYA: Broadcaster Astro Awani says it will give full cooperation in the police probe against one of its newscasters for allegedly making slanderous remarks over two compounds amounting to RM50,000 each issued in Kelantan recently.

Astro Awani editor-in-chief Ashwad Ismail confirmed that the investigation was about remarks aired on Awani 745, its primetime news programme.

"We have always been of the view that the institution of the police, which guarantees the harmony, safety and well-being of the rakyat, must always be respected and preserved at all times.

"As a news and current affairs channel, Astro Awani remains committed to strengthening the existing cooperation between the public and the police through ethical, balanced and quality coverage," he said in a statement on Saturday (May 1).

A Malay daily reported on Friday (April 31) that a news presenter had allegedly criticised the police over an incident in Kelantan where a burger seller was issued with a RM50,000 compound for breaching Covid-19 standard operating procedures.

The report did not mention what was said by the news presenter, nor on which channel it was aired.

A 44-second clip of the segment has since gone viral on social media, where the presenter is seen criticising the RM50,000 fine for a small-time trader.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani had said that the case was being investigated under Section 504 of the Penal Code and Section 233 of the communications and multimedia act for abuse of network facilities.

Section 504 refers to anyone who intentionally insults, and thereby gives provocation to, any person, intending or knowing it to be likely that such provocation will cause him to break the public peace or commit any other offence.

On April 25, a burger seller at Kg Rambutan Rendang near Kota Baru, Kelantan, was issued a RM50,000 fine for violating the movement control order, including operating beyond 10pm.

Kota Baru police chief Abdul Rahim Daud said the man also violated standard operating procedures by setting up tables for customers and failing to provide a body temperature scanner.

"Due to the offences, we issued the maximum compound of RM50,000. However, he can appeal to the Health Ministry for a reduction."

The burger seller, Wan Mohd Faisal Wan Kadir, 38, said the incident happened at about 11.10pm, adding that there were no customers at the stall when policemen approached him.

"I had folded the tables, but hadn't closed the stall as I was preparing orders for factory workers," he said, adding that he had been slapped with a RM1,000 compound before for the same offence.

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