The ban on Berita HarianPosted: October 23, 2008
Looks like there are a couple of newspapers lately that are having it rough. The first of the two would of course be Utusan Melayu. At first I thought that the RM30mil lawsuit filed against them by Teresa was over-the-top, but after the cerpen issue, I’m not quite that sympathetic anymore. The dots are just too obvious, and the lines that are drawn to connect the dots point clearly at exactly who the cerpen was focused on.
In saying that, I wish not to defend Utusan Melayu. Not worth defending the indefensible, methinks. (Added: Nat Tan explains why he thinks that suing Utusan’s pants off is not the smartest thing to do. I tend to agree.)
Berita Harian, however, is quite something else.
Their journalists have been banned from the Kelantan State Assembly. It is said that this is because Berita Harian did not publish an apology over an alleged ‘gross misreporting’.
I don’t know if there was any ‘gross misreporting’. But whatever it is, I still think that it is unreal to ban reporters from entering the State Assembly. One might argue that banning them from entering is not the same as revoking their license, and hence not a form of censorship. But without the pass to enter, how are they to report?
For me, if people want to ban the newspaper from their houses, it’s well and fine. It’s their personal choice. But it is quite different when a government, state or federal, bans the newspaper from entering what is supposed to be a public place.
If indeed the report was very biased, there must be other ways to go about it. Banning the newspaper from the premises is NOT one of those ways, especially not if they advocate press freedom.
Granted that press freedom comes with a lot of responsibility, governments must also do their part in NOT looking to censorship.
I don’t read Berita Harian. But I’m sure there are those who do. And if the state government does not lift the ban on the newspaper from reporting on what goes on in the state assembly, they are indirectly depriving the readers of Berita Harian their access to information of what goes on in the state assembly.
*Note: The article that was ‘grossly misreported’ can be found HERE. To be quite honest, I don’t see how it can be misreported, unless they have grossly misquoted the Sultan. Maybe the issue they have is not with the article, but with the way they have titled it. Perhaps the state government can clarify.
UPDATE: Read Kickdefella for clarification. It appears that it IS the headline that is the issue.