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Najib’s version of media freedom

“As long as the reports do not run foul of our existing laws, the press is free to report on pretty much anything.”

PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, denying that Malaysia lacked press freedom and saying that such accusations were grossly unfair. Najib said this to journalists and the business fraternity before giving out awards at the National Press Club (NPC)-Naza Awards Night on 19 March 2010.

During the event, the NPC-Scomi Journalist of the Year award went to The Star managing editor P Gunasegaram. In February 2010, the Home Ministry issued a show-cause letter to The Star because of one of Gunasegaram’s articles, Persuasion, not compulsion. (Source: Najib: Press and govt relationship critical, The Star, 20 March 2010)

“When I asked him why Merdeka Review was being barred, he told me it was an order from the prime minister’s office … He said he wasn’t sure why we were being barred, and there was no black-and-white instruction.”

Merdeka Review journalist Wong Shu Qi, on finding out that her news outfit was banned from covering Najib’s announcement of his cabinet. The arbitrary banning of the Chinese-language news site happened barely a week after Najib became prime minister. (Source: Online news site barred from PM’s office, The Nut Graph, 9 Apr 2009)

“We would like to ask if it is Najib’s policy to put people in the TV station to practise censorship.”

Centre for Independent Journalism executive director V Gayathry, after ntv7 talk show host Florence Looi was “reassigned” to cover news. Earlier, in the popular current affairs programme Point of View, one of Looi’s guests had said that Najib’s first 100 days as premier were mediocre.

The network is owned by the Umno-linked Media Prima. Upon Najib becoming prime minister, Media Prime reportedly issued restrictions to its networks’ reporting of the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case. (Source: TV host “reassigned” over Najib scorecard, Malaysiakini, 13 July 2009)

“We would appreciate if you could take immediate action [to] remove the following videos:

a) Hisham: Don’t blame cow-head protesters

b) Temple demo: Residents march with cow’s head

c) Hisham: Don’t blame cow-head protesters”

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), in its directive to Malaysiakini to censor its content regarding the cow-head protest fiasco. The commission claimed that it had received numerous complaints on the videos, which it said were “provocative” and “offensive” to Indian Malaysians. (Source: MCMC request for Malaysiakini to remove provocative videos, the MCMC, 3 Sept 2009)

“The report has been verified to be not true.”

The Home Ministry, in issuing a show-cause letter to Chinese-language daily China Press, which had earlier reported that Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan had handed in his resignation letter.

China Press was given seven days to provide a written reply to the letter, issued under Section 8A of the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA). Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said stern action would be taken against the newspaper if their explanation was unsatisfactory.

Under the PPPA, those who are liable to be penalised include the printer, publisher, editor and the writer. If convicted, offenders can be jailed not more than three years, or fined not exceeding RM20,000, or both. (Source: China Press gets show cause letter, Bernama, 13 March 2010)  favicon

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4 Responses to “Najib’s version of media freedom”

  1. Sonic says:

    As a citizen of Malaysia, I will continue my journey to fight for greater good of our country, our people and our future. You can count on it. Despite all these saddening situations, let’s hope for a better future and fight against opportunists and extremists peacefully.

  2. Sean says:

    I think including the ‘resignation story’ detracts from an otherwise excellent article. I realise it’s a current topic and the story may yet unfold to reveal something of substance, but what do you know that would change my impression that the article is a work of bad fiction? If I was fond of conspiracy theories I might want to believe that we’re watching a mole-hunt. In the absence of any other information, Occam’s Razor tells me to accept ‘crap journalism’ as the explanation.


    True, Sean, but the “resignation story” also asks whether the minister’s powers to shut down the press is a good way to solve bad journalism. If it turns out that the China Press report was an example of bad journalism, there are actually more democratic ways to hold the paper accountable.

    In established democracies which have a functioning independent media, self regulation has proven to be an effective way for media outlets to practise good journalism. In the US, for example, dailies that sensationalised the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal might have sold well for those particular issues, but it was the papers that stuck to credible, public interest reporting that ended up with their credibility intact in the long run. Not exactly an accurate parallel with the “IGP resignation” story, but nevertheless an example that illuminates the related concepts of ethical journalism and media independence.

    Shanon Shah
    Columns and Comments Editor

  3. Daasaratan J says:

    Lol, “As long as the reports do not run foul of our existing laws, the press is free to report on pretty much anything.”

    What if our laws need to be amended? What if the law is being abused by a certain group of power elites?… What if the law itself has flaws, as it is created by human beings?

  4. Kong Kek Kuat says:

    @ Sonic

    Oh, Sonic, forget about your naive high hopes, will ya? You obviously don´t understand the magnitude of your statement. Perhaps you should take note that not ALL Malaysians want help. The more you impose yourself, the more they think you´re shoving it down their throats.

    Just let the country rot. It´s rotting from the core outwards, anyway.

    In case you´re wondering — yes, I have a sadistic desire to see Malaysia rot.

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