Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Press Freedom in Malaysia - Not a 'controlled' puppet media... very pro-government.. .

Malaysian democracy in practice is a mockery to democracy, as Najib's BN government's understanding is that people vote for their elected reps once every 5 years to sit in Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies, and thereafter people are expected to sit back in silence and accept whatever the ruling governments do and say. 

Thereafter, people are not allowed to have free speech, free expression, freedom of opinion, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of the press.... all these being freedoms guaranteed by the highest law  in the country, the Federal Constitution - which thereafter is taken away by other laws.

According to the BN government, people are not permitted to voice opposition or a different opinion from the ruling government on any matter... and if they do, then they are being 'anti-government', and hence a threat to national security ... and the law will act against them - even by using those draconian Detention Without Trial laws which permits indefinite detention for reasons that are unchallengeable in court. 

To exercise freedoms guaranteed by the Federal Constitution - one requires permission by the government, the police, etc - and even, if one were to apply for these permissions, the chances are they are not given - and, even if given, it is given at the eleventh hour with absurd conditions. Political party functions and gatherings in closed halls have previously been given on condition that there are no political speeches...(Is that not absurd?)
Of course, when it comes to premises, many of the peoples' venues like stadiums and town halls is almost impossible to get - why the 'managers' of the premises refuses to give permission, as in the recent free election gathering - citing reasons of 'unavailability'(when it is free) or even worry that the premises may be damaged/vandalized...Even certain private facilities are 'forced' to reject permissions.

Of course, the late police approval (even if given), makes it very difficult to advertise the event and make the necessary preparations. Monies will all have to be spend for the venue and related matters - and suddenly at the last minute, you may never get the approval and may have to cancel. After such experiences, many will just stop - or just stop applying. Many Malaysians feel it is absurd to have to apply to the police for permissions - hence, they will proceed without making any such applications....why give the police so much power? In other countries, requirement is only to inform the police - not ask for permissions.

Media - well, since all publications need to again apply for and get licenses every year, or can have their licenses immediately revoked or 'suspended temporarily' - most main stream media have been cowed into just being propagators of government voices, and not giving space for any other alternative voice or opinion. In the recent ALIRAN monthly, even with regard the 9/7/2011 BERSIH 2.0 event, media was 'instructed' on how they should cover the event.... they were allegedly said not to refer to the event as 'BERSIH rally or ...' but as 'illegal assembly'. They were asked to just focus on the problems caused - disruption to business, traffic jams, vandalism, etc ...

TV, radio told to demonise Bersih rally
Lee Way Loon
Jul 1, 11
With the Bersih 2.0 rally just around the corner, the authorities have launched a media campaign to label the rally as an illegal gathering to the extent that TV stations are required to submit daily reports detailing their news coverage on the rally.

Malaysiakini learnt that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), which oversees all private TV and radio stations, has directed the broadcasters to state the number and content of news related to Bersih in their reports.

NONEYesterday, the commission also invited representatives from 22 electronic media and telecommunications operators to attend a one-day seminar titled 'Content Monitoring Seminar 2011' at its auditorium in Cyberjaya.

According to the MCMC letter issued to the electronic media, a copy of which was obtained by Malaysiakini, the aim of the seminar is to "discuss compliance with licensing criteria and other relevant provisions".

Editors who attended the seminar told Malaysiakini that they were implicitly advised by the MCMC not to refer to the rally as "Bersih rally" but as "illegal gathering" in their news coverage and to discourage members of the public from taking part in it.

On July 9, the day of the rally, footage showing police using violence on protesters is considered taboo, the editors said.

Instead the news should highlight the difficulties and inconvenience caused by the rally to the people, as well as scenes of protesters heckling, public property being vandalised and massive traffic congestions.

RTM already playing the role
State-owned RTM TV stations have been airing street polls against the rally on an almost daily basis in the past week.

Messages telling people to stay away from the rally are also being aired daily over both RTM and MCA-owned Mandarin radio station 988, which has highlighted the rally's status as illegal.

Most of the mainstream local dailies, meanwhile, have already been referrring to the Bersih 2.0 rally as an "illegal gathering".

chinese newspapers 250205Even the Chinese dailies, which exercise comparatively greater editorial independence, are leaning toward a conservative stand on this issue.

Both China Press and Nanyang Siang Pau have in their editorials recently dissuaded the people from taking part in the rally in order to "protect the national security".

Among others, they recalled the May 13 racial clashes of 1969 in order to convince their readers about the potential harm the illegal assembly could bring about.

Websites warned
Meanwhile, MCMC has warned it would shut down websites deemed a threat to national security, including those promoting the July 9 rally.

MCMC chief strategy officer Mohamed Sharil Mohamed Tarmizi told the Star that the commission would not hesitate to take action against any website for breaching the Communication and Multimedia Act.

Anything deemed illegal or wrong in the real world also applied to the cyber world, said Sharil.

Responding to an anti-Bersih advertisement aired on RTM channel TV2 yesterday, PAS Youth urged RTM to stop “misusing taxpayers' money to commit slander against a people's movement”.

“The short advertisement starts with an actor showing a Bersih leaflet, which was well-received by actor Bell Ngasri who showed interest in joining the rally.

"This was followed by actor Ezany Nizariff who showed a clip of chaos breaking out overseas, while saying that this will be what will happen at the Bersih rally and that the rakyat will feel threatened while tourists will flee.

“The advertisement ended with Bell throwing away the leaflet and saying that the Bersih rally is actually a dirty rally... RTM has allowed itself to become a political tool, but worse still, it showed no evidence that such violence and chaos would happen in Bersih and was forced to steal footage from overseas,” said the Selangor PAS Youth information chief Riduan Mohd Nor.

He added that if RTM wanted to let the people know the truth about Bersih then they should telecast on TV1 and TV2 a debate between Bersih and the Election Commission or BN representatives.- Malaysiakini, 1/7/2011, TV, radio told to demonise Bersih rally

Now,  a Media Consultative Council led by Ministers - just another mechanism, I believe, to stifle further press freedom in Malaysia - to possibly ensure what should be reported, and how it should be reported... As it is, mainstream media is already functioning as government loudspeakers - providing very little coverage for opposing viewpoints, very little 'investigative reporting' that will definitely serve as a check and balance against government/s abuse of power,... and if one were to even read newspapers from Thailand and other countries, we will see 'how boring' and 'un-newspaper like' malaysian mainstream media has become. Najib and the BN should realize that it is these kind of 'controls' and 'media' that has forced Malaysians to come out to the streets in an effort to communicate their views and concerns to the governments of the day, to the people of Malaysia and to the world at large...

Remember that criticisms of government, its actions and its policies, is a pre-requisite of a true democracy... and a truly democratic government will not be afraid of such criticisms - and will respond not with threats, violence and 'laws', but by giving answers, explanations and views... all intended to convince Malaysians. You do not suppress alternative voices - you encourage them. Yo do not just 'blindly' reject all differing views, but you listen and consider - accept those that are good reject the 'bad' - and importantly listen to the people and easily acknowledge when you are wrong.

Freedom of the press must be allowed uninhibited - and, if the government really wants to have a space for its voice to be heard, then maybe get a few pages in mainstream dailies (paying for it, of course) and insert your statements, views, etc... could call that "Government's Voice" or "Government Speaks"...

Editors snub gov't-led media council at first meeting
Aidila Razak & Salhan K Ahmad
Jul 25, 11
Editors of print media were today unanimous in their opposition to a government-led media consultative council, at the first meeting with the government to discuss the matter.

NONEAccording to those who attended the poorly-represented closed- door meeting chaired by Information, Communication and Culture Ministry secretary general Kamaruddin Siaraf (right), the editors were "about 100 percent" against government involvement in the council.

Notable absences in the one-hour meeting today were top editors of widely-read publications The Star, The Edge and Malay Mail.

Those who made it included representatives from The Sun, Bernama, the China Press group, Sin Chew group and the NSTP group, as well as the National Union of Journalists Malaysia.

Also present were media officials from the Prime Minister's Department.

“The print media is sending a very clear message that we feel that this is another layer of control.

“The perception is that we are already battered,” said a source who attended the meeting.
This was echoed by NSTP group managing editor Nuraina Samad, who also attended the meeting.

“How is going to help our circulation?” she asked, raising anxiety over the council's effect on the bottom line.

However, Kamaruddin, who according to the Home Ministry and Information, Communication and Ministry joint-proposal is to be the co-deputy chairperson of the council, said that the press have gotten the wrong impression.
'It's not about regulation'

“The council is not about regulation, it is just a consultative council that has no executive powers.
“We just want to be a helping hand, nothing else.”

“All we want is to pave the way to establish (an independent) media council... we have enough laws to regulate already,” he said, adding that he will take the feedback to the government.
Kamaruddin, who admitted that the editors had “gone against him” in the meeting, also went as far as conceding “failure”.

“We had called the print media first.. but it has failed even with them... so I have to report this to the government,” he said.

He added that they will also consider the suggestion from Bernama editor-in-chief Yong Soo Heong to also include media owners in the council.

NONEAccording to NUJ secretary-general V Anbalagan (right), what the media essentially wants is a council independent of the government in order to maintain its role as the fourth estate.

“This is a step backward, an exercise in futility... What we want is to set up a council made up of media members which is funded with taxpayers' money.

“It should not be headed by the government but by a retired judge,” he said, relating the outcome of a NUJ meeting in April on the matter.

The government proposal discussed today suggested that the council be co-chaired by Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim.

The deputy co-chairpersons will be the ministries' secretary generals, while officials from the Prime Minister's Department, National Security Council, and the Information Ministry's Special Functions Department (Jasa) were also proposed as council members.

The council aims to, among others, be a forum for “harmonious” cooperation in the interest of nation-building, and to produce “communication strategies to tackle recurring issues”. - Malaysiakini, 25/7/2011, Editors snub gov't-led media council at first meeting

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