Police confirm NSTP dailies under investigation for claiming SJKC students not keen to learn BM
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1 — Two national newspapers are being investigated by police for publishing news reports insinuating that Chinese vernacular school students in the country are reluctant to learn Bahasa Malaysia.
The English-language New Straits Times (NST) and the Malay-language Berita Harian, both published by the New Straits Times Press Berhad (NSTP), sparked uproar with Chinese Malaysian education groups accusing the two dailies of sedition in their January 18 articles titled “SJKC pupils not keen to learn BM” and “Murid SJKC tak minat subjek Bahasa Melayu?” respectively.
Sentul police chief Assistant Commissioner Beh Eng Lai confirmed that police reports on the matter had been filed on January 21.
“We are investigating under Section 505(b) of the Penal Code and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998,” he told Malay Mail today when contacted.
Section 505(b) of the Penal Code deals with the publication of statements with the intent to cause, or which are likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public whereby a person may be induced to commit a crime against the State or public peace.
If found guilty, punishment includes a jail term of up to two years, an unspecified fine, or both.
Section 233 of the CMA 1998 criminalises the use of network facilities or network services by a person to transmit communication deemed offensive.
Those found guilty of this offence can be punished with a maximum fine of RM50,000, or a jail term of up to one year, or both.
Malaysian Chinese Language Council (MCLC) president Datuk Eddie Heng Hong Chai held a news conference here yesterday accusing the NST reporter of misleading the public by making sweeping generalisations in the published article about BM in vernacular schools nationwide.
He claimed that the reporter had only interviewed two teachers who were only sharing the difficulties their vernacular school students faced in learning the national language, news portal Malaysiakini reported.
Heng clarified that the vernacular school students were improving their BM scores in recent years, with the average marks topping 90 per cent.
He added that MCLC had written to the news outlets but had yet to receive a response, Malaysiakini reported.