Thursday, October 29, 2009

Media Freedom: A free discussion on Malaysia and Singapore

IF you think your media are not free, read journo-blogger Op-Ed's article Media - Ethiopia, Sudan, Haiti then Singapore.

These are the main points if you want to write about Singapore.
1) The government allows to write anything. But if it sees you straying into rumours and syiok sendiri political stories, it will not stand still.
It will be very vigorous in trying to get its response across.
Don't lose in court, baby. Don't.

If, to take a Malaysian example, you put out a story about the government being corrupt, or PM Najib Razak being involved with some murder (as some websites and blogs did), then expect a strong response. Unless you have court prove-able proof.
(And don't run and hide away like a royal coward after making scurrilous allegations about murder against the PM! Unless of course, they don't have any proof in the first place, just syiok sendiri writings).

The reason for staying true is simple: Singapore does not want some untrue stuff, or some things presented as 'facts' which it thinks are unfairly inaccurate, to be spread in the public domain forever and ever.
It will sue if necessary.
Be prepared to defend yourself vigorously.

As Minister Shanmugam says:
"Our approach on press reporting is simple: The press can criticise us, our policies. We do not seek to proscribe that.
"But we demand the right of response, to be published in the journal that published the original article. We do not accept that they can decide whether to publish our response. That irks the press no end."

In Malaysia, taking the example further, if a politician were to sue over some nonsense article, then a rumour will be accepted as fact, instead of the opposite.
When Anwar Ibrahim sued the writer of the book '50 Dalil' (50 Reasons Why Anwar Cannot Become PM), people actually started to say: 'There you are, the book contains truths, so he wants to shut up the publisher and writer. Otherwise, why sue?'
If PM Najib or Dr Mahathir Mohamad were to sue some website or newspaper over something, people will cry about 'media freedom being restricted'.
'They are scared of the truth lah! Vote them out!'
Lim Kit Siang will ask for a commission of inquiry.

If you are not against media freedom, read the rest of the article, H E R E.


  1. Wow, erm... what can I say? Well said and put!


  2. "Racial polarisation in the country is not caused by the country vernacular school system but more by the government political, education and economic discriminative policies." - an educationist said today.

    The prime minister and all the Umno ministers will never admit that polarisation arises more out of the race-based policies and privileges one race gets over another.

    Similarly, there are other areas of our daily lives where terminologies used have made us view certain practices as privileges rather than sacrifices. For instance, the bumi discount for houses.

    The total sale value to the developer is still the same. It is just that the non-malay buyer is likely to be required to pay for some of the discount given to the malays.

    But the longer the NEP policies continue and the greater the vehemence with which Umno politicians issue threats, terminologies will change and more people will talk about these practices or policies in words that may not sound as pleasing to the ears of the beneficiaries.

    Obviously, at that point we shall probably see a new round of discriminations and disagreements. Unfortunately, as long as only weak people take on leadership roles within Umno, threats will continue, NEP policies will be sustained and corruption will prevail.

    That unfortunately is the legacy we have as Malaysians.

    The basic building blocks of unity, whether you are uniting different ethnic groups in a country or trying to re-engineer a corporation of differing cultural values, are the same.

    The principal parties have to be treated as equals - nor special privileges no favours that would favour one group over another. Any privilege that is given should be given to all on the same basis - for example, special privilege given to the financially poor regardless of race or ethnic origin.

    It is only on this equitable footing that you can foster true nationalism and build lasting unity, since each component group will have the same stake in the nation and has equal likelihood in reaping the rewards or suffering the consequences.

    My recommendation to the government, not simply as a businessman but also based on pragmatism, is not to waste any more taxpayer ringgit on nationalism programmes until it has established the pre-conditions for its success.

    What is sad is that, after almost five decades of independence, we have been unable in Malaysia, to bring globally-vision leaders to the forefront - leaders who can see beyond racial boundaries to recognise the immense sociological and economic potential that can benefit all Malaysians.