The Talk on Media Freedom

This morning was the Walk for Media Freedom. Being unable to attend, I have been keeping a lookout for any updates on how the Talk with Zaid Ibrahim went. Here’s what I’ve found:

Give your plan on Press Freedom, Zaid tells media

KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim today urged media practitioners in the country to put forward proposals collectively to the government for the amendment, review or replacement of laws which they feel curtail greater press freedom.

He said media people such as editors, journalists and others should work together and put forward these proposals.

Show unity. Show your role in the process. If you want to change something in existence …(then) you must propose and offer a solution … a mechanism to manage the process. That you must do. If you want greater press freedom, you must have a plan,” he said at a dialogue organised by the National Press Club (NPC) and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Malaysia (NUJ) at the NPC premises, here.

Full article here.

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Zaid: Media should unite for reforms

KUALA LUMPUR: The press should unite and put forward again its proposals for reforms in the media and to push for press freedom, said Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.

Zaid, who was heckled during his speech and the question and answer session, said it was easy to blame the state of the media in the country on “repressive laws” but said it was important for the press to be honest and look at itself and take responsibility.

He said in order to replace laws like the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the Official Secrets Act, there has to be an alternative mechanism in place.

Otherwise there would be anarchy, he claimed.

“If you don’t want the government to regulate, then you have to offer a solution. You have to have a better plan. You can’t just say ‘repeal, repeal, repeal’ without a mechanism in place.

Full article here.

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This better plan that Zaid is talking about is coming. Prior to this, I have had the link to an online petition organised by BENAR to endorse the Freedom of Information Act. But because of some complications, it was found out that most of the signatures might amount to nothing as many used pseudonyms instead of their real names and IC numbers.

But another plan is already in place, this time in collaboration with WAMI and CIJ. The link to the memorandum will be posted here as soon as I get word on it.

But Zaid is right when he says that journalists, editors, even bloggers and the public in whole should be united in wanting media reform, and press for media freedom. He is right when he says that we can’t just call for something to be repealed, and not offer any suggestions as to what might take it’s place.

He was quite non-committed in his answers to questions, as I can see from the very few articles there are on this, but perhaps it will be come clearer as to how the whole dialogue went when CIJ or BENAR update their websites.

But look for a while at what Rocky wrote on his blog about the Talk:

We talked about Press Freedom today. We hackled Zaid Ibrahim, the de facto Law Minister, for his lack of commitments. Some said he was a waste of time.

But he asked this question of us journalists:

“It’s about gumption. And commitment. Are you prepared to face the consequences?”

And he made this statement:

“I see only one group editor present here today”.

Go read more from Rocky’s Bru here.

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Is this what we expect from them? This event was about Media Freedom. It was about Press Freedom. It affects all of us, but surely it would affect the journalists and editors themselves the most. So why was Wong Chun Wai the only group editor there?

If it was a disappointment before because the Walk was not allowed (but they walked anyway), it is more so a disappointment to know how uncommitted the newspaper editors are.

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