Award-winning journalist charged with inciting mischief over posts on Wuhan virus

Zurairi Ar
Journalist Wan Noor Hayati Wan Alias is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court February 5, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5 — Journalist Wan Noor Hayati Wan Alias was charged today with three counts of causing public fear or alarm in the Magistrate’s Court here, believed to be over her social media posts on the recent 2019-nCoV coronavirus outbreak.

Wan Noor Hayati, 41, pleaded not guilty on all charges in front of Magistrate Tawfiq Affandy Chin, as reported by Astro Awani.

In all three charges, she was charged over three separate postings under the “Ibu Yati” Facebook account on 10pm, January 26 last month.

Among her allegedly offensive post was a warning against 1,000 Chinese nationals who arrived in Penang amid the outbreak. Penang exco Yeoh Soon Hin had explained that the tourists from a cruise ship had all undergone medical examinations.

She was charged under Section 505(b) of the Penal Code which handles “statements conducing to public mischief”.

The Section penalises those who make such remarks “with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquility.”

Wan Noor Hayati, if found guilty, may face prison up to two years, or with fine, or both.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nurilya Ellyna Nor Azma requested for the judge to refuse her bail, but the accused was eventually granted bail of RM12,000 for all charges with one guarantor.

The next case mention will be on March 11.

Wan Noor Hayati has written for Berita Harian and New Straits Times, both under the New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd that is part of Media Prima Group.

She had received the prestigious Kajai Award in 2014 and Tokoh Wartawan Rakyat in 2016, in addition to over 20 other journalism awards.

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