Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Press Freedom

Our Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, told the world on CNN News just 2 months ago that the Malaysian press is free, but they practice responsible self-censorship.

Well, if a meeting called by the Deputy Prime Minister himself, together with Minister of Works, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Effendi Norwawi and Minister of Information, Datuk Zainuddin Maidin with the editors of all Malaysian newspapers to "discuss" the upcoming "toll-hike" issue isn't press censorship, what is?
The editors of all newspapers and television stations have been told not to play up the impending increase in toll hike on five highways, at a hush-hush briefing... [the Ministers] met with the editors at Parliament house at 3.45pm to discuss the increase in charges.

“They are afraid the issue would create another round of public fury,” a source told Malaysiakini after the 90-minute meeting, of which even reporters covering Parliament were not aware.
This, if I'm not wrong, is the sixth time the editors of the local newspapers have been called in for briefings by the cabinet in 2006, specifically pertaining to the reporting of certain sensitive issues such as crime, the New Economic Policy and controversial politics.

And the count doesn't yet include the times which official letters have been sent to specific newspapers on some of their high-profile reports. Even the case of corruptions in the renovation works in Chinese vernacular schools is not spared of interference from the Internal Security Minister, also helmed by our Prime Minister, as blogged here in "Education in Malaysia".

Indeed, we have press freedom in Malaysia, but we also have Government-directed media self-censorship. Go figure.
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