Photo © Masry Che Ani, The Sun
The incident that happened in Seberang Perai, Penang, last weekend where the Guang Ming Daily photo journalist, Loh Hoay Hoon, 25, was allegedly kicked, choked and hit on the head by a group of thugs, (allegedly, PKR security personnel) is absolutely appalling. It must not happen again and PKR must publicly apologise to the Daily and personally to the photographer. Even if these thugs are 'agent provocateurs', because it happened at a PKR event, the real PKR security has the obligation to provide security to all their visitors, pressmen and women alike.
A good press photographer's duty is to the cover an event to the best of his or her ability in, procuring the best vantage points possible and not follow the 'herd' of other photographers in getting the same shots. Using their skills in smooth-talking, pleading, and smiling profusely are ways to win over security guards or sentries and accessing backstage, or getting closer to events, all in the name of public interest. Photojournalists, generally know when not to cross the line, and follow a simple but unwritten set of rules, only known to working photographers and their peers, be it reporting war, famine, riots or simply as this case shows, a political rally.
The report that Ms Loh was followed by a pack of men, (thugs) back to her car after being restrained from doing her job, smells like a revenge attack, far from just performing a basic security duty for Anwar Ibrahim. The Malaysian press, especially the NUJ must strongly condemn the assault, and the Malaysian Chinese Photojournalist Association (MCPA) must urge all working pressmen and photojournalists from the other dailies to stage a boycott until an acceptable apology is made, and the thugs charged with illegal assault.
Most press photojournalists work to extremely tight deadlines, having to file their stories immediately via wireless laptop computers, and work in unfavourable conditions. The work is highly competitive and maintaining a high standard and your job, means that you must 'get' the picture or you are out. With these pressures and deadlines, and with low pay, the only 'high' for photographers is having their by-line or credit against their published photo, which are often overlooked by readers.
Please do not deprive them of this.
Incidentally, here's another take :
Photojournalist wins police apology
A photojournalist who claimed he was beaten by police at a demonstration outside parliament has accepted an apology and an out-of-court settlement.
Marc Vallée sued the police after suffering injuries at the Sack Parliament rally in October 2006, where he was working as a photographer. He was treated for his injuries at the nearby St Thomas' hospital.
He began legal proceedings against Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, alleging the police had assaulted him and breached his rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
Vallée has received a written apology and an out-of-court settlement, according to the National Union of Journalists. His legal costs for pursuing the action will also be met by the police, the union added.
Chez Cotton, Vallée's solicitor, described his treatment as "an extremely unpleasant incident".
"Neither the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police or his officers has any legal power, moral responsibility or political responsibility to prevent or restrict what the media record," Cotton said.
"Mr Vallée is a well-respected photojournalist, lawfully present to photograph a political protest outside parliament, yet he was brutally prevented from doing so by the police."
Jeremy Dear, the NUJ's general secretary, said it was "disgraceful that the police brutally obstructed a member of the press from reporting on a political demonstration".
"Press freedom is a central tenet of our democracy so Marc Vallée's treatment by the police is deeply worrying," he added. "The Met needs to take a close look at what must be done to ensure its officers respect journalists' rights."
The Metropolitan Police had not commented by the time of publication.The Guardian.co.uk