Bersih tells media: Start new chapter, no more one-sided stories

KUALA LUMPUR: The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) today called on the media to provide fair coverage to all political parties.

In a statement, Bersih said the mainstream media had in the past shunned the then opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH), which is now in power.

“However, it is important that the media should start a new chapter by giving equal media coverage to all political parties and abandon the old habits of providing one-sided stories in favour of the ruling parties, as practised during the Barisan Nasional era.

“Taxpayer-funded state media, such as radio and television stations of RTM, should no longer serve the government of the day but the taxpayers, and provide equal media coverage to all sides for taxpayers to make informed decisions.”

Bersih noted that PH had promised in its manifesto to abolish draconian laws such as the Sedition Act 1948 and the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 as well as to remove draconian clauses in the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

In addition, PH leaders had said they would repeal the recently enacted Anti-Fake News Act 2018.

“We call for these laws to be repealed or reviewed immediately in line with human rights and press freedom in the first session of Parliament.

“We further urge the Pakatan Harapan government to accord press freedom with constitutional protection.”

The NGO reminded the media that it played a “uniquely important role” in ensuring that the government was accountable to citizens and to carry feedback and information from the grassroots to the top leaders of the nation.

“Free and fair media coverage may be one step forward for the media but it is a giant step forward for democracy,” Bersih added.