Ambiga warns of suing TV station for label on Seksualiti Merdeka

(The Sun) – Former Malaysian Bar chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan has warned that she would not hesitate to sue a television station if it continues to misconstrue the objectives of the Seksualiti Merdeka 2011 movement in its reports.

At a press conference at the Tenaganita office in Jalan Gasing today, Ambiga, who is the Bersih 2.0 chairman, said she was shocked on learning that TV3’s prime news had claimed that Seksualiti Merdeka was a “free sex festival”. She said the report was irresponsible, and accused the station of misleading the public.
“Is it because you want to get me or bully a marginalised group which is already being shamed and facing abuse everyday?” she said, before challenging the Media Prima station to carry her statement or risk facing legal action.
At about 4pm, four police officers from the Kuala Lumpur police contingent arrived at the office and spent about 45 minutes questioning Ambiga, Tenaganita chairman Irene Fernandez, Seksualiti Merdeka founder Pang Khee Teik and Bersih 2.0 committee member Maria Chin Abdullah about the movement.
Last Friday, Malay right-wing group Perkasa led a demonstration against Seksualiti Merdeka 2011 at the National Mosque, and had called for Ambiga to be arrested for being involved in the movement.
Ambiga had earlier reportedly clarified that she was not one of the organisers of Seksualiti Merdeka 2011 but that she had only been asked to launch it on Wednesday.
She also said she had only agreed to officiate the festival as a private citizen and not as a representative of Bersih.
The lawyer then took the opportunity to link the issue with the refugee exchange programme between Australia and Malaysia, saying the former should take note of the controversy being kicked up by the government concerning Seksualiti Merdeka as it speaks of Malaysia’s view on minority groups.
“I hope Australia is watching. They plan to send refugees here, a country which cannot protect its minority groups,” she said.
Clearly riled up over the misreporting by certain news sources, prominent social activist Datuk Paduka Marina Mahathir, who was also present at the press conference, said: “I am angry and was sickened to read how they labelled the movement’s activities as a free sex festival.”
“I am a supporter of the group and had launched their programme two years ago without problems. The programme is to educate those who come under the scope of the movement of their rights and all this does not go against the law or religion.”
The daughter of former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also threatened to take legal action against the TV station over its report.
Pang said the movement was making arrangements to meet Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar to explain the objectives of the movement.
Ismail was quoted saying on Monday that he had agreed to meet the group.
The Seksualiti Merdeka 2011 programme which was scheduled to be launched on Wednesday and end on Nov 13 at Central Market’s Annexe Gallery, is a yearly festival which championed freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity, and to protect the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, intersexuals and transgenders.
It first took place in 2008.
However, the programme was cancelled after the police, on Saturday, banned functions organised by any group related to the Seksualiti Merdeka programme to safeguard public order.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Khalid Abu Bakar said police had done so to safeguard public order after receiving several reports against it.
He also said the police were not against freedom of expression or human rights but had to step in because the organisers did not have a permit to hold the festival in public.