In his paper on "Establishing a Fully Moral and Ethical Society: The Way Forward" presented at the National Congress on Vision 2020 held on April 29-30, Dr. Chanda Muzaffar made a very pertinent observation about corruption and the mass media, when he said:
"In this regard many Malaysians have not failed to observe that nearly every major corruption scandal or serious allegation of wrongdoing in high places in the last two decades has first been highlighted in the foreign media rather than in the local press. This is true of BMF as it is true of the FOREX incident in 1993, the PERWAJA episode in 1996 and the Muhammad Taib case in 1997. It is as if the local press is afraid to expose corruption in high places lest it incurs the wrath of the people in power."
No society can succeed in waging and sustaining an all-out war against corruption unless the campaign can secure the support and participation of all sectors of society, in particular the mass media, in creating information and public awareness about the importance of creating a new culture of integrity in the public service with zero tolerance for corruption.
In fact, the country must develop a culture where not only the press, but Malaysian citizens, are encouraged to expose corruption. In some countries, for instance, the government and citizen groups come together to support the establishment of organisations which are nonprofit and tax-exempt and whose charter is to expose and correct corruption in government and the private sector through research and public education.
For a start, the Malaysian mass media must be more enteprising and investigative so that Malaysians do not have to read about Malaysian news and developments from foreign media rather than local press.
A good recent example where Malaysians have still to depend on the foreign media to read about Malaysian news and developments is with regard to the Bakun hydroelectric power project.
The recent issue of Asiaweek for instance carried a report on the controversial Bakun dam under the heading: "A sinking feeling - Financing Bakun is looking almost as tricky as building the dam", while the Asian Wall Street Journal had also been carrying reports about the Bakun dam, as for instance about widespread market speculation that the Malaysian government had directed Renong to help bail out Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing after the disastrous undersubscription of Ekranís one-for-one rights issue to raise funds for the Bakun dam project.
It is time for the Malaysian mass media to embark on enterprising and investigative journalism, particularly in support of the all-out war against corruption by exposing corruption and abuses of power which are rampant in the country.