Media Freedom?

Is there really such a thing? Media freedom?

Although there is “freedom of speech” in Malaysia, sometimes the actions of the government begs to differ. I don’t even want to start on the peace rallies, or of certain individuals who post their views on their PERSONAL blogs, or up on YouTube. No, I’d open another nasty can of worms if I go anywhere near there.

I want to just touch the tip of the iceberg here, and say that there’s hardly any freedom in mainstream media.

According to this article in the Star Online, Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail says that media freedom is among the issues that will be given priority. And I couldn’t agree more.

Mainstream media includes, among others, television and newspapers. Things that have been our one and only source of information years ago. But that’s no more the case today. With the Internet being so easily accessible, mainstream media isn’t the only way we can get information. And we know it.

But the television stations and newspaper companies don’t seem to know that. Being in the media themselves, shouldn’t they be very clear about this obvious shift in attention?

The likes of NSTP don’t seem to care very much. Most newspapers being sold in the country, even from years back, have always been the mouthpiece for BN, because most of them are government owned. Even the news that is broadcast on television is somewhat biased.

So where is this so-called “freedom of speech”? Is there any media freedom at all?

And it’s not only that these newspapers and television news show what the government want us to see. No, it’s not that simple.

In fact, sometimes I wonder if the government actually uses the media to draw the racial lines even deeper into the sand. Malay newspapers and news programmes on television only mostly show what’s happening with UMNO, if they’re good. If anything BAD happens, then they’d probably focus on PAS and PKR instead.

As for the Chinese TV stations along with the Chinese newspapers, it’s always only about MCA and DAP, probably sometimes Gerakan as well. I asked one friend the other day on whether she knew about what was happening in the UMNO camp, or if she knew anything about the problems with the appointing of the MBs in Terengganu and Perlis.

Mind you, she’s in Malaysia, she reads the newspapers daily, AND watches the news every evening. And one would expect someone THIS interested in the country’s politics to be up-to-date with all the goings on.

But because she’s Chinese educated, she only reads Chinese newspapers, and watches the Mandarin news. And she knew nothing of what I just mentioned.

This doesn’t tell me that she’s ignorant. In fact, she knows more about what’s happening within MCA and DAP than I do about Malaysian politics at the moment. But that’s all she knows.

She heard no news of Anwar Ibrahim saying that there are BN reps in Sabah that are willing to defect over to PKR. She heard nothing of the troubles in Terengganu and Perlis. She knew almost ZERO information on anything that wasn’t somehow related to DAP or MCA.

What exactly, then, is the media doing? What are they trying to say? That Chinese people in Malaysia will only be interested in Chinese politics? That the Chinese people in Malaysia couldn’t care less what was happening in non-Chinese political parties? That the Chinese people in Malaysia only care about their own interests? That the Chinese people in Malaysia couldn’t care less if the people of other races killed themselves as long as the Chinese community was protected?

And I’m betting that it’s the same with media of other languages.

The whole point of having newspapers printed in different languages is just so that the rakyat can have access to what’s going on in the country. NOT to differentiate between what each different race gets to know.

Perhaps this is NOT in the domain of the government, and it’s the newspaper companies themselves who choose to do this segregation of information.

If it is so, then again, what are they doing?


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