Freedom of the press

By Ishwar Nahappan

Dr Mahathir thrust a deep dagger into the heart of fundamental and civil liberties of Malaysia. This is the legacy that he will be known best for. Progressively under his rule the concept of “Free and Fair” elections were thrown out of the window.

The expression “Free and Fair” incorporates many underlying principles including legal, ethical, and internationally accepted historical conventions. It does not just mean the freedom to vote. An open free press to express its views without duress and manipulation is a fundamental liberty which is the absolute right of ALL MALAYSIANS OF ALL RACES.

The newspapers and visual media (government controlled) are blanketed and filled with goodies and ang pows from the barisan government and all opposition activities are blocked and blacked out by a pliant press and media under the control and ownership of the constituent parties of barisan. UMNO or UMNO members control the New Straits Times, Berita Harian, The Malay Mail, the Utusan, etc. MCA control the Star and Nanyang Siang Pow and Datuk Samy Vellu’s personal family members control the Tamil Nesan.

Freedom of the press in Malaysia is like a wayang kulit, now you see it now you don’t. Or a water tap which can be turned on and off or reduced to a trickle whenever the government so chooses.

The press deliberately ignores:

• Any mention by the opposition of continuing breaches of civil liberties, the incidents of endemic corruption, acts of wasteful expenditure, the list could go on and on but I will save that for another day.

• It now appears that Bukit Bintang has 5,000 new postal voters who have suddenly appeared without any logical or legitimate rhyme or reason. One should ask WHY and the reason being is to neutralise one community’s voting strength.

• The leadership of the MIC is fast losing any residual credibility with the Indian community. Its great leader Datuk Samy Vellu has been harassed on two occasions in the last few days and just yesterday with eggs and slippers. Consequently more and more Indians are joining the DAP, totally frustrated with Samy Vellu’s self-centered and self-aggrandizing leadership. Last Thursday evening, at a dinner I hosted in Klang, 250 ordinary Indians, many of them from the MIC openly joined the DAP.

• Samy Vellu can’t even speak out and on behalf of 300 men, women and children who were demonstrating peacefully and calling them criminal to boot. Perhaps he should look at a mirror himself and adjust his coiffeur (hairdo), it might help him see things more clearly. A meaningful response to this horrendous act by the police was made by Datuk Anwar yesterday. His speech was reported in The New Paper.

Fortunately for us today and what makes this election a watershed is the power of electronic media communication both through the internet and the sms. The Thaipusam celebration which was boycotted by the Indian community at large resulted in the number of devotees visiting Batu Caves reducing to a generous estimate of approximately 250,000 people as opposed to the usual 800,000 – 1 million people. Samy’s days are numbered. It could not happen sooner. He will be the fourth of a pack of rotten apples who came to power in the seventies who so spoiled Malaysia. I wish him a peaceful retirement.

  1. #1 by waterfrontcoolie on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 12:54 am

    The ploy of the megalomania to enslave all Malaysians didnot happen yesterday. It happened half-way through his REGIME[ which he liked to apply on other States which didn’t jive to his tune]. He pirated the whole country’s mega projects through ‘negotiated’ tenders from which all his cronies benefitted.
    Somehow, the BUmis are supposedly to have gained from these exercises but never seem to be able to achieve it. Why? Becos Cash had to be syphoned out through the back door.At the same time the Controlled presses did not say a word on all these cheatings that were carried out. Some of those ‘columnists’ wrote grandfather story to cheat the rural folks on their achievements. Can some one please indicate how much ‘profit’ did Petronas made during his 22 year regime?. And where have the money gone to? There is only one option left. The ballot box! Unless ALL Malaysians can act now, 15 years down the road, we are likely to look for ‘migrant jobs ‘in other Asean countries..

  2. #2 by cemerlang on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 3:06 am

    Let’s put it this way. If it is about Barisan Nasional, then it is free. If it is about the opposition, then it is not free. Malaysia’s concept of democracy is not even an Islamic democracy, it is a Barisan Nasional concept of democracy. Tun Doctor Mahathir was greatly supported and of course, he must have the brains for that kind of great works. Come to think of it, in his 22 years of being a Prime Minister, he must have resorted to a lot of tactics in order to get the ball rolling until the year 2020. All the other prime ministers and including the present one and may be the future ones will not be as great as he was. Each day you open a newspaper to read, you will have to read the greatness of the Barisan Nasional first. Then you find all the tiny columns of the opposition nicely tucked away. The newspaper itself reflects the kind of democracy we live. If we are not with the Barisan Nasional, we will be cast aside and hidden. But if we are with the Barisan Nasional, we will find ourselves in front page and with big bold headlines.

  3. #3 by carloz28 on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 3:40 am

    There is no such thing as press freedom in Malaysia. Press freedom is already dead long time ago. Long before ‘erection’ Zam is even at the helm.. The only reason I’m still reading STAR now is because of Starmag, INTECH and Garfield.

    Boycott all gov controlled newspaper and read blogs better

  4. #4 by sethcsl on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 5:22 am

    So these day the newpaper never mentioned VK lingam, Zakariah’s Palace and so on

  5. #5 by chiakchua on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 7:25 am

    # sethcsl Says:
    Today at 05: 22.41 (1 hour ago)

    “So these day the newpaper never mentioned VK lingam, Zakariah’s Palace and so on” By sethcsl 19-2-2008 05:22

    Not only that, NOW YOU DON’T HEAR A THING ABOUT THE BOTAK HEAD NAZRI in those media! They know if his name appear in the Chinese newspaper (i don’t know about Tamil newspaper), it may remind the Chinese of his arrogance and vote opposition to vent their anger!

  6. #6 by helpless on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 8:23 am

    Yes, it is a fact that there is absolutely no freedom of press in Malaysia. It is BN’s newspaper.

    Any negative news unfavorable to BN were covered up except accident related news. Even news on any suicide,murder or road accident cases reflect the incompentency of BN’s Minister in management whereas BN’s Ministers were seen having their crony collecting money for UMNO.

    Malaysian is definitely… definitely… definitely heading to a no way better than what we deserved. It is just cheat ourselve.

    Calling all BN candidate.
    If you care having a guilty mind about how your relative, friend who were suffered from the BN coalition’s control, please withdraw yourself from contest under BN fore the sake of the next generation.

  7. #7 by Saint on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 8:51 am

    The Tamil advertisement on RTM on the progress of Indians in Malaysia is backfiring. The figures quoted are being mocked by the man on the ground. The Indian public understands that out of the figures quoted, 60% of the professionals are above 50 years of age who came to their profession many years ago. Those of ages between 30 to 50 constitute only about 35% while those below 30
    constitute only 15% and less. In some fields, the reduction is more then 85%; thus clearly showing that BN had systematically taken many steps to reduce the number of Indian professionals. Of those who came out are through great personal struggle with less then 3% actually obtaining government help.

    The mention of names connected to Maxis; Air Asia and MasterSkills only demonstrates the persistence of the Indian population who made it good in spite of the many restrictions place by the government on the Indian community. Yet even these people cannot “train” or “employ” 50% of Indians in their “so called own companies”. This is “THE TRUTH” of the situation of the Malaysian Indians in this country. RTM, please keep repeating this as many times as possible for Indians are switching channels when this advertisement comes through.

    Indians also understand that assistance from MIC is not government help but funds made available by the Indian public at large; and one of the reasons the Indians are angry with the Samy Vellu. He is taking credit for the labour and sacrifice of others.

  8. #8 by bystander on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 9:07 am

    The indians have racial profiled in the recent peaceful protests by BN and the police. And these people including our sleepy PM do not know the meaning of racial profiling. Selangor MB Khir told the indian community not to depend on handouts in his recent campaign outing. YB, Why is it then that whilst bumis have all the opportunities they can still depend on handouts?

  9. #9 by ktteokt on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 9:20 am

    Well, Dr. M is now paying an expensive price for what he had done when he was PM and the way it looks, he is now tasting his own medicine!

  10. #10 by jus legitimum on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 9:40 am

    Judging on the social ,economic,educational,racial integration aspects of Malaysia,the score sheet is all (——all minus signs).So do you still want to remain as fools and continue to vote BN?

  11. #11 by Libra2 on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 11:06 am

    The Indians today are in the same position as were the Blacks in South Africa.
    Now they stop their cars, check their I/Cs and question them as to why they are on the roads, where they come from and where they are going to?
    Next they will walk into restaurants to harass Indians. They will ask why you are eating there and not at home? The police will look at every Indian as an Opposition supporter or a Hindraf member.

  12. #12 by badak on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 12:38 pm

    Libra2 how right you are,Just the other day i saw the police harassing a group of Indians In Rantau N.S.Reason it was past mid night.
    Im more afraid of those mat rempit in my area then then all those INDIANS put together.
    The best joke is now that when they are stop or question by anyone.they will stare at you with arogance and say they have the the support of UMNO.

  13. #13 by helpless on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 2:49 pm

    In Lingam judge fixing case,’ … withnes said an ACA officer telephoned her to say that the investigation was closed because it involved several high-ranking officers in the government. ‘

    Ask BN’s supporter. Who can we rely for justice if we continue to support BN ?

  14. #14 by toyolbuster on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 3:46 pm

    Ishwar, welcome to Msian politics, although it may be your natural bloodline but you have certainly come in perfectly at a most appropriate time when Malaysian seems lost as to who can guide them out of the ceste-poole hole. DAP need new leaders who are capable enough to convince the people’s support. With their constant internal squabbles, one may wonder if Kit is being too soft and too compromising. Many characters have come and gone through the DAP doors, and in the transitional process, have caused great damage with their selfish, power crazy attitude, casting a very Chinese based image for DAP when in actual fact, we all know its a multi-race based party. We hope you can play a more active role at the top echelon and complement our Karpal Singh up there and bring in more of the other races to join DAP. We must be grateful and thankful to Samy Velu for being such an idiot all these while. He and many others like him in the BN zoo have made DAP a much stronger party. All the best.

  15. #15 by muni49 on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 3:55 pm

    Is there TV1,TV2,TV3 and NTV7?. To me these TVs do not exist. We do get better coverage from Aljezzira. Bn and company are only day dreaming that they will win hands down. Well, the answer is blowing in the wind and the Goons are for a real sock. I only pray that God will be with all malaysians who are votting to make their best choice. The opposition parties are also malaysians and citizens of this country. Why not give them a chance. Now I leave the people to deside.

  16. #16 by mauriyaII on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 4:02 pm

    If we look at the present political scene. It is no different from what it was during the 22 years Mahathir ruled with an iron fist. He liberally used the ISA to stifle all opposition.


    The fact is these leaders could not or would not question Mahathir (aka UMNO) because they were more interested in their positions in the cabinet and the crumbs thrown to them.

    As Saint pointed out, the few Indians doing well in the corporate sector are there because of their diligent, hardwork and enterprising nature. Tony Fernandez bought an ailing debt-ridden airline for RM1/-. Mahathir did not give him a handout. Mahathir for all his shrewdness would have thought he was blessing Tony Fernandez with bankruptcy.

    Almost all the Indians and Chinese who support the BN are the party officials and members who have siphoned off all the wealth meant for the respective communities.

    It is not too late to rectify the situation. The important thing is to make a start.

    First internal party feuds and open declaration of leaving the Opposition parties should stop at once. The BN is just waiting to capitalize on these. With the mass media in their control, they can send all the wrong messages to the people about the Opposition.

    Second not enough publicity is given about all the corruption and wrong-doings of the BN. Not all are computer savvy. Only the educated people go online to read the blogs. I am yet to see fliers highlighting what the layman is interested.

    Thirdly the masses do not know when and where the Opposition parties (DAP, PKR) have their political rallies/dialogues and ‘ceramas’.

    The candidates standing for a particular constituency should make it a point to visit areas supportive of their cause as well as other areas to gauge the reasons for their reluctance to vote for the Opposition. Make a concerted effort to woo them over.

    It is not easy to break the BN monopoly on money politics but disgruntled and dissatisfied people have been known to take whatever is given to them and still vote for the oppostition.

    Finally do the Opposition have moles in the midst of the BN election machinery to find out what plans they have to use Mat Rempits and other thugs to intimidate voters and bringing in phantom voters.

    There is not much time. Let us put our resources (meagre or not) and energies to see that the BN is denied a 2/3 majority.


  17. #17 by badak on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 4:49 pm

    Its sad that most of us are afraid to help the oppositon parties openly.We should all go out and help them,stop being afraid or shy.ITS OUR FUTURE WE ARE TALKING ABOUT.

  18. #18 by jus legitimum on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 5:44 pm

    In a true democratic country,nobody should be afraid of doing what he thinks is legal and right.Since our BN people have been shouting loud and clear about the country’s democratic status,now all right thinking people should go all out to help all opposition parties to win big in the coming GE.Donate to DAP,Vote DAP and campaign for DAP+PKR+PAS.

  19. #19 by limkamput on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 10:22 pm

    Ishwar Nahappan, May I know where were you and what were you doing all these years. Certainly you can’t be realising only now that this country lack free and fair election. In fact this country lacks more than free and fair election. Election to municipalities and local authorities for example is another big issue that the oppositions should be focusing on. I am sorry if I irritate you. Why didn’t you come out earlier given your ability and connection?

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