KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 4 ― A group of BFM89.9’s former guests have urged the business radio station to ensure that its investigation into a recent sexual harassment and assault complaints be handled transparently while maintaining the confidentiality of the survivors.
The group called for the investigation to protect the survivors and prioritise their wellbeing, while the third-party investigators appointed by BFM must have the confidence of all those linked to the allegations as well as other employees who may wish to speak up.
“In a situation of unequal power, anonymity becomes a critical mechanism to ensure that discriminatory, exploitative or other forms of unacceptable practices become uncovered,” said the group.
“This is an important principle that must be upheld and defended, as can be seen in the case of whistleblowers. Anonymity in this case should never be taken as a reason to dismiss allegations, or the source itself as having malicious intent.”
It also urged the station’s listeners, guests and partners to seek clarity on the matter, calling on BFM89.9 to disclose more details on the investigator and why it was appointed, and urging the station’s management to undertake an independent audit of its internal reporting mechanisms.
“The management must understand it is incumbent upon them — and not survivors or whistleblowers — to build a workplace culture that is respectful, supportive and accountable,” it said.
“BFM89.9 has been among those at the forefront of the media industry pushing boundaries and giving space to voices and issues many other media organisations shy away from. We hope the station will be as bold in confronting the challenges before them today.”
The statement was signed by 13 activists in various fields, including in women’s rights, such as Malaysia Muda’s Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, Justice for Sisters’ S. Thilaga, Norhayati Kaprawi, Jac SM Kee, Suri Kempe, and actors and comedians Shamaine Othman and Farah Rani.
Yesterday, BFM89.9 founder Malek Ali also said some of the employees involved in the complaints have taken a leave of absence.
The business radio station was hit with an anonymous letter circulated last Thursday that alleged a rape incident at an office party last year, as well as sexual harassment complaints against two male staff.
The letter writer, who claimed to be working with BFM, accused the two staff of sexually harassing her and other female colleagues with sexual propositions and comments on their dressing.
Media groups have expressed concern about the sexual harassment claims and urged media outlets to come up with robust reporting mechanisms for such complaints.