PETALING JAYA: The Institute of Journalists (IOJ) Malaysia has chided PAS leaders Idris Ahmad and Datuk Awang Hashim for allegedly harassing a female reporter.
Free Malaysia Today (FMT) reporter Minderjeet Kaur was allegedly intimidated by the two politicians after posing questions on the banning of gaming outlets in Kedah.
The two also questioned her nationality while making personal remarks about the reporter's family.
IOJ chairman Qishin Tariq said the institute found the behaviour of the politicians unprofessional.
"We find the behaviour unprofessional of politicians who are answerable to the public, and can be reasonably expected to be capable of responding to questions in English, or politely requesting for the questions to be translated into the national language.
"IOJ also notes the gendered nature of the politicians' crude behaviour endured by Minderjeet," he said in a statement on Monday (Nov 15), adding that such attacks have real-life impacts, including affecting mental health and productivity.
He said misogyny also intersects with other forms of discrimination.
"Women journalists who are also disadvantaged by racism, religious bigotry and other forms of discrimination face additional exposure to in-person attacks, with worse impacts.
"It is essential not to tolerate such misogyny which aims to deter critical reporting," he said, adding that political actors, in particular, must be held accountable and apologise for their actions.
He said failing to do so normalises gendered attacks and generalised harassment of reporters in the line of duty.
"The twin public health and economic crises of Covid-19 have disproportionately impacted journalists and members of the press.
"Reporters in particular, risk infection, cyberattacks, and censorship in the course of their duties," he said, adding that such trends bode ill for the state of Malaysian media, which already contends with numerous pre-existing restrictions and legislation against press freedom.
Qishin said IOJ stood in solidarity with Minderjeet, and emphasised the media's role in upholding the Fourth Estate and a vibrant Malaysian democracy.