The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IOJM) is urging Entrepreneur Development Minister Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof to retract his statement on a "Chinese journalist” from Malaysiakini.
This follows a Malaysia Gazette video clip being posted on Redzuan's official Facebook page, with a caption stating "Terkini: 'Menteri terkejut' ada wartawan bangsa Cina tak tahu Perlembagaan Malaysia (Latest: 'Minister shocked' that Chinese reporter doesn't know the Federal Constitution)."
"The IOJM views Mohd Redzuan's response to the journalist in the video, as well as his social media commentary as unacceptable," it said in a statement today.
"At the official event, the minister chose not to provide a response to the journalist’s question, but instead to question the journalist in return, and subsequently dismissed her response.
"The IOJM believes the race of a journalist should not be taken into account with regards to their ability to do their jobs, particularly in the context of simply asking the minister to clarify his earlier statements, which were similarly controversial."
"Malays in Malaysia are very accommodative. All ethnic groups have to know the constitution. What is our constitution?" he replied, before abruptly turning his focus on the reporter.
"I would like to ask you (reporter), what is our constitution? What is our Rukun Negara? Do you know?" he asked, to which the reporter replied in the affirmative.
However, the reporter answering "tahu" ("I do know") three times appeared lost on Redzuan, as he turned towards others and declared, "Ah, (she) doesn't know."
IOJM said that ministers should represent the interests of the country, and not any particular race or religion.
"They should be held to a high standard of neutrality, in view of national interests.
"We call on the minister to formally retract his statement, and for the government to hold its officials accountable for potentially divisive statements, as well as in assisting journalists in their pursuit of the truth rather than questioning their knowledge of our shared constitution," it said.