Malaysian authorities have launched an investigation into a TV documentary by Qatari state-owned cable-news station Al Jazeera on the mass arrests of migrant workers in Malaysia during its coronavirus lockdowns.
Officials said the film report, titled “Locked up in Malaysia’s Lockdown” and produced by Al Jazeera’s 101 East news program, had been an attempt to sully Malaysia’s international image.
The documentary highlighted the plight of thousands of undocumented migrants reportedly arrested during raids carried out in COVID-19 lockdown hotspots.
The documentary, which aired last week, sparked an immediate backlash online while several officials decried the report as being inaccurate, misleading and unfair.
Defence minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob this week called on Al Jazeera to apologise to Malaysians, and said allegations of racism and discrimination against undocumented migrants were untrue.
Authorities had previously defended the arrests as necessary to uphold the law and stem the spread of the pandemic.
Police opened a probe into the Al Jazeera documentary following a complaint by Malaysia’s immigration department, deputy director of the police criminal investigations department Mior Faridalathrash Wahid told Reuters in a text message.
Spokespeople for Al Jazeera did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
The investigation is the latest in a recent series of clampdowns against reporters and activists that rights groups have said were aimed at stifling dissent of the government.
In May, a journalist from the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post was questioned by police over her reporting on the migrant arrests.
Last week, Malaysia’s Federal Court allowed prosecutors to move ahead with contempt proceedings against news portal Malaysiakini over comments posted by its readers on the judiciary. Malaysiakini has denied wrongdoing, saying it could not be held responsible for readers’ comments. (Source: CNA)