Press freedom is not about getting chummy with reporters, says Penang DAP chief.
Thanks to BN’s near 55-year rule, state DAP chief Chow Kon Yeow said Malaysia was now ranked joint 122nd with Tajikistan and Algeria on press freedom, and even behind Cambodia, Liberia and Zimbabwe.
Malaysian level of press freedom was described by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) as a “difficult situation”.
In an open letter dated May 15, 2012 to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, RSF noted that Malaysian media was exposed to censorship and violence, and its independence has been severely curtailed by ruling coalition’s political meddling.
“Surely Teng understands that press freedom is not about getting chummy with reporters,” said Chow at a press conference here today.
On Monday, Teng said compared with Lim, former chief minister and Gerakan president Koh Tsu Koon was far more tolerant towards media criticisms.
Teng said that Koh has never banned any media or journalist, or rapped them for being critical of his state administration.
“But current Chief Minister Lim is a stark contrast,” said Teng.
He said Lim has banned media and certain journalists, ticked off reporters who are critical of him, threatened to take legal action and has even sued the media.
Recently Lim threatened to sue any media that dared to print prevailing allegations about his private life.
Teng also said Lim’s undesirable press culture has spread to other politicians, who even refused to shake hands with newsmen.
But Chow, also a state executive councillor, returned fire by raising questions on political ownership of media groups and government control on media permits vis-à-vis the Printing Presses and Publications Act.
He also questioned the national mainstram media blackout on French ‘Scorpene’ probe on Malaysia.
Chow demands Teng’s explanation on his deafening silence when journalists were roughed up during Bersih 3.0.
He wants to know on whether Teng agreed with Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein’s suggestion that seizing media cameras was police standard operating procedure (SOP).
He pointed out that in a recent defamation court case between Lim and Utusan Malaysia, judgment by Varghese George Varghese Jr stated that “Utusan conduct was tainted by a disregard of a basic requirement to verify, which is an integral part of responsible journalism, and that the article was published with malice against CM Lim.”
He blasted Teng for being naïve, and called on him to wake up to the fact that certain media has been unfair with malicious intent against the Pakatan Rakyat state government.
“The last thing on these media organisations’ agenda is fairness, freedom and democracy.
“To defend them on the basis of these ideals is not only hypocritical but utterly despicable of Teng,” claimed Chow.
He justified Lim action to sue newspapers because that’s the only way to defend when denied the right to reply against wild and untruthful criticisms.