Press freedom, a la MCA

by Thomas Lee Seng Hock

MCA president Chua Soi Lek has declared that his party wants the current restrictive and oppressive Printing Presses and Publications Act scrapped, to keep up with the increasing public demands for more openness and freedom of expression.

Chua said at the recently concluded 58th MCA annual general assembly that the aspirations of the new generation of Malaysians for a more liberal and democratic society means that the Barisan Nasional government should be bold and confident enough to dump the intolerable piece of harsh and authoritarian legislation, not just make amendments to it.

“We must work towards abolishing the Printing Presses and Publications Act and set a time frame for that. The government has to be bold and confident enough to take such a step,” he said.

Chua pointed out that there is no level playing field now in the communication and information arena between the traditional main stream media (MSM) and the fast expanding and influential cyber media.

“The print media is subject to various laws, but the new media seem to have a free hand. There should be no such discrimination,” he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had announced in his Malaysia Day message to the nation on 16 September 2011 that the Barisan Nasional administration would amend the Printing Presses and Publications Act to exempt newspaper publishers from the current mandatory obligationto apply for a new printing permit annually.

The MCA proposal to go beyond just making adjustment to the intensely unacceptable and undesirable legislation iscertainly commendable and deserving of praise and support.

But, an honest and objective look at the current attitude, policy and practice of the party in the area of press freedom surely exposes the hollowness of the Chua proposal, and the insincerity,and even hypocrisy, of the party leadership.

If Chua and the MCA are truly and sincerely in favour and supportive of the real and pragmatic practice of press freedom, advocating the unrestrictive, unregulated, and unreserved media culture in the country, then the very first thing the MCA must do is to divest itself totally of its control of The Star and other related publications, by selling its shares in these media companies to the general public. At the same time,the party must remove all political appointees currently running the editorial operation of The Star and the party-controlled Chinese newspapers.

Chua Soi Lek should shut up about the issue of press freedom if he is not able to make the MCA give up the control of The Star and other newspapers it currently owns.

The political control of the nation’snewspapers is surely the most glaring and conspicuous of a bad press culture,of which the MCA is among the top two culprits, the other being Umno which controls the Utusan Malaysia and other Bahasa Melayu newspapers.

Chua Soi Lek wants to project himself as one who believes in and advocates the practice of a free press culture, yet he is not prepared to lift the political control and abuse of the newspapers owned by the party.

If The Star can publish in full Chua’s presidential address at the MCA assembly, it should also publish in full the policy message of DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, if it is truly a free and independent paper, with the catchphrase tagline “The People’s Paper”.

The political slant in its news reporting and political commentaries is very obvious. Anything spoken by the MCA bosses must be published in full, while anything from the DAP or other opposition groups, especially those critical of the MCA, will not see the light of day.

Editors at the MCA-control newspapers practise self-censorship to ensure nothing detrimental to the party and its leaders is published. Such a bad press culture in these newspapers is largely responsible for the eroding of the independence and freedom of the media in our nation.

I challenge Chua Soi Lek to walk the talk on the matter of press freedom by freeing The Star and the MCA-owned Chinese newspapers from the party control. The test of his credibility and sincerity is not just in the talk advocating a free press culture, but in a determined, decisive, and deconstructive effort to deactivate the political control and abuse of The Star and other MCA-owned newspapers.

Until Chua Soi Lek liberates The Star and other MCA-control newspapers, he has no moral right to talk about the freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

  1. #1 by Loh on Monday, 3 October 2011 - 7:48 pm

    Were the issues included in CSL’s so-called New Deal brought to UMNO attention for the first time. If it was, why did MCA no do it in the past. If not, what is the point of coffee-shop talk now?

    Component parties in a coalition government should reach consensus before a policy is implemented. Does MCA agree to the continuation of NEP, 21 years longer than the 20 years said to be the duration forced upon MCA during Emergency Rule?

    All those points raised by CSL are ‘minor issues’ compared to NEP. If CSL found it necessary to talk over the microphone for Najib to hear, why did he not raise NEP as well? If the loudspeaker talk was only for Chinese voters, has not CSL the balls to call for an end to NEP?

  2. #2 by monsterball on Monday, 3 October 2011 - 7:53 pm

    yea… Najib all talk no actions trying to fool Malaysians how much they value democracy and freedom…when the fact of the matter is…he supports race and religion politics and corruptions.
    He talk anything that does not please UMNO b..few times MCA have been warned….by DPM and PM kept mum.
    These back door ministers and puppets for UMNO b shame the Malaysian Chinese to the extreme…never seen so much in the past.
    Since after 12th GE…they are worthless and useless shoe shine boys.

  3. #3 by Bigjoe on Monday, 3 October 2011 - 7:59 pm

    The problem with ANYTHING CSL says is that firstly he is most famous to be a cheater i.e., that rules does not necessarily apply to him. Hence when he starts talking about the run-of-the-mill changes, its not revolutionary, its pathetically reactionary and excuses.

    He is talking about press freedom when he is the one who fired Jamal. Also, I have never heard MCA asked much for press freedom in fact they have been co-conspirator. Whatever is done is automatically suspect to be initiated from the top and what they are still doing is dancing to the puppet masters whatever it ends up being.

    The Chinese don’t need press freedom – they have the internet. So what the hell does he think is doing making a big deal out of this? He just look castrated and dancing like a clown for a living..

  4. #4 by waterfrontcoolie on Monday, 3 October 2011 - 10:24 pm

    As usual, MCA will jump on any topic which is being highlighted by others first; they have nothing original in thought except on project like PKFZ. As Thomas rightly pointed out, you cannot have the cake and eat it too, STAR has been used to distort news, though may not be as bad as UM which should be the yardstick in the first instance as that paper is designed on falsehood. But judging STAR from the norm expected of a decent paper, it has failed rather badly. The sad thing is those writers themselves know that what they are writing is bullshit! And yet they continue to do so! Real pathetic! Should there be another neutral English Edition, without doubt, STAR will be second choice or rather it will close shop! Now that people can go to the internet, it is a matter of time, it will disappear!

  5. #5 by country for good malaysian on Monday, 3 October 2011 - 11:08 pm

    There is still a very long way for Malaysia to really be free of press freedom. Nevertheless, I believe Malaysians are generally well informed of the country’s economic, social and political climate. It doesn’t mean that when I buy The Star I am taking everything in it lock, stock and barrel. Infact, it is to the detriment of The Star when it is too political ….that is only favouring one side and not the other. In other words, fair reporting is critical and it also benefit The Star and not the other way round.

  6. #6 by dagen on Tuesday, 4 October 2011 - 8:27 am

    Stupid old parking fool.

  7. #7 by St Peter on Tuesday, 4 October 2011 - 10:38 am

    Shameful to all MCA delegates, shame on you! Big mouth talk big and talk pig! Great actors and actresses, the true betrayals to Chinese. Dun expect a key of heaven from St Peter, the hell is waiting for you.

  8. #8 by monsterball on Tuesday, 4 October 2011 - 3:29 pm

    If MCA politicians have any dignity and principles in life…they will not elect Chua Soi Lek as President.

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