Wed. May 29th, 2024

This is not fake news: Pakatan Harapan Government will free the media and repeal all laws and policies that stifle the media.

Even before Parliament was dissolved on 7th March to make way for Malaysia’s 14th general election to be held on 9th May, the tightly-controlled mainstream media have been openly campaigning for Barisan Nasional, with their distortion and lies.

Besides campaigning for BN, the media such as the online version of The Star and New Straits Times recently published articles quoting Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as saying that Pakatan Harapan will abolish the Grab ride-hailing service when in power. When Dr Mahathir explained that he had said there should be a review in order to be fair to both sides, hence exposing their lies, the two media outlets merely deleted the news without any apologies.

And yet the Najib Razak administration had no qualms bulldozing the Anti-Fake News Law in a hurry recently to further curb the already-restrained media as well as alternative voices on social media.

This is not a new phenomenon as it has been going on for a long time. Why does this continue to happen? As long as Barisan Nasional is the government, we will never taste real freedom including media freedom.

This year’s World Press Freedom Day theme is “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law”. This is a very apt theme in the context of our 14th General Election as the media in Malaysia have been prevented for decades from performing its function as a watchdog of the government.

A free media is crucial in providing a level playing field for all political actors and for the public (stake-holders) to hold the power-holders accountable. As such, this GE is an opportunity to reform the legislative environment that has worked against the media and freedom of expression of citizens.

In the recently launched Press Freedom Index, Malaysia has remained in the bottom of the list of over 170 countries, with no improvements to show for itself. When Najib took office in 2009, he promised to relax the government’s control but he lied.

As stated in Pakatan Harapan’s GE14 Manifesto:

“Pakatan Harapan Government will ensure that media has the freedom to check and balance our administration. We will review all laws and regulations related to the media so that media freedom is guaranteed. We will also take steps to improve the independence and professionalism of entities such as Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) and BERNAMA.

“The Pakatan Harapan Government will also set up a Media Council, comprising media figures, which will be responsible for developing and implementing a code of ethics on reporting and functions as a hisbah body (ombudsman) for public complaints.”

To ensure the implementation of those proposals, the new Government will revoke the following:

• Sedition Act 1948
• Prevention of Crime Act 1959
• Universities and University Colleges Act 1971
• Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984
• National Security Council Act 2016
• Mandatory death by hanging in all Acts.

The Pakatan Harapan Government will also abolish draconian provisions in the following Acts:

• Penal Code 1997 especially on peaceful assembly and activities
harmful to democracy
• Communications and Multimedia Act 1998
• Security Offences (special measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA)
• Peaceful Assembly Act 2012
• Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) 2015

I repeat, this is not fake news: Pakatan Harapan Government will free the media and repeal all laws and policies that stifle the media.

Happy Press Freedom Day.