Press Freedom or a free press? | Malaysian Sentinel : Malaysia's Politics from a Malaysian Citizen Blogger

Monday, May 5, 2008

Press Freedom or a free press?

Abolish Laws for Press Freedom screams the headlines on a Malaysiakini report. But what do we really want? Press Freedom or a Free Press?

Even with abolishment of press laws would our journalists truly be free to report on happenings in Malaysia? Or would we see more journalists being detained under the Sedition Act or ISA? In other countries, journalists have been murdered for speaking out against their governments or some just simply disappear.

Are we willing to pay the price for a free press?

The Star carried a report on the proceedings in Parliament where the Speaker gave a 10 minute lecture on "how to conduct oneself in parliament" and then the MSM goes on to report on what transpired. Out of the five (5) sub-headings only one (1) was by the opposition. So the other four (4) was devoted to the current government. Now, some have argued that MSM is bias and un-willing to give airtime or reporting space to the opposition and the MSM will reply, "But we do". Right they do, one out of four is not zero.

So even if we abolish the draconic laws governing the press, we may never be able to unshackled the journalist to freely report what they see and hear. Instead, what needs to be done is the separation of governmental involvement in the media. Allow the media to roam free, a commercial body that should not be tainted by the tentacles of the government. Better still, if the MSM is truly "mesra rakyat", sell your shares to the rakyat at low prices so everyone can own a piece of the media. The media can truly be the mouth-piece of the people.

Is this a far-fetch idea? I believe it is do-able as long as the government is willing to allow it. But would they? That would be something to watch as the people place more and more demands on the government to reform and beef up it's act. Let's keep out fingers cross.


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