C4 blasts for Putrajaya for going after media

In the past year, the government has threatened legal action against a host of media personnel for reporting on matters that they deem sensitive.

PRESS STATEMENT The Malaysian Government must immediately stop abuse and attacks on the media. This would help eradicate corruption and rebuild Malaysia as a democratic and progressive nation state.

In the spirit of World Press Freedom Day, we denounce the Malaysian Government’s increasing attacks on our press, the fourth estate.

Since the 13th General Election, the government has been widening its control over the press, using “oppressive laws” that violate freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. The growing trend of using restrictive laws like the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, Sedition Act 1948 and the Penal Code against the press is extremely alarming.

It undermines the fundamental watchdog role of the media.

In the past year, the government has threatened legal action against a host of media personnel for reporting on matters that they deem sensitive.

Several cases can be cited including Zakiah Koya from The Heat for reporting on the Citizens’ Declaration; Kow Gah Chie from Malaysiakini for reporting on a Barisan Nasional (BN) politician’s remark; two Australian reporters (Four Corners – ABC) for questioning Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak on the RM2.6 billion political ‘donation’ in his personal account; and five executives from the (now defunct) Malaysian Insider and its parent company, The Edge, for reporting on the 1MDB and other scandals.

Furthermore, the government has also proposed to amend the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, the Official Secrets Act 1972, and the colonial Sedition Act 1948 to include additional red tapes and harsher penalties against those who disseminate information that departs from mainstream government propaganda.

This sort of clampdown was effectually shutting down the little existing space for the Malaysian media to engage in investigative journalism and raise red flags on unrighteous and shoddy dealings in our society.

Without a free press, the general public was deprived of crucial public information, which is fundamental in helping them make informed decisions in electing and holding their elected representatives accountable. This information vacuum has allowed public officials representing the masses to arbitrarily monopolize public information to a terrifying level, and has subsequently created a conducive breeding ground for grand corruption.

At large, the elimination of the fourth estate has crippled a vital tool for ensuring clean governance, upholding transparency and forcing accountability in government.

 

Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4)

 

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