The Media and the 13th General Elections in Malaysia
It’s no secret that mainstream media in Malaysia have been shackled by the state through various media laws. What is in contradiction here is that Malaysia claims itself to be a democracy and we have periodical elections.
Yet, missing in this equation is a media that is free to offer a balance reporting on both sides of the political divide. What we have today, unless you been vacationing in Mars, are countless advertisements and news coverage from BN in the mainstream media. Shouldn’t the other side have an equal amount of air time and print space as well?
The joke here is our Minister for Information, Communication and Culture said, rephrasing here, “But we did offer air time for the opposition … just ten minutes only.” Huh? As if to add insult to injury, he added that “It’s all the time that PR deserve”
Listen Mr. Minister, in democracy, a balanced media coverage is important for voters. It tells us what are the policy planks that each party is offering so that we can make an inform decision when we vote.
As a consequence, a coalition of NGOs have came together to demand an access to open media for all political parties. And to sweeten the deal, they also demanded that Mr Najib and Mr. Anwar as leaders of the opposing coalitions to have a debate so that we, the rakyat, can decide who have the better policy and vision for the nation.
We, the undersigned citizens of Malaysia, call upon the Barisan Nasional caretaker government to immediately meet our following demands:
1) Ensure that all political parties have free and fair access to state-owned media such as RTM and Bernama. The opposition must be given sufficient air time and coverage to present their policies and due opportunity to rebut criticisms.
2) Ensure that a series of at least 12 televised debates on key policy areas affecting the people, including democratic rights, economic reforms, labour and human capital, race-based politics, public welfare, a civil service overhaul, free education, culture and religion, transportation reforms, foreign policy, Sarawak and Sabah issues. In addition, special sessions need to be conducted for the smaller political parties.
3) Give privately owned media the assurance that there shall be no retaliation against those that give equal coverage to all contesting political parties.
Jointly initiated by :
2. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
3. Civil Rights Committee of KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
4. Kumpulan Aktivis Media Independen (KAMI
)5. Kumpulan Kartunis Independen
6. Malaysians for Beng Hock (M4BH)
7. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
8. Writers’ Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)