(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): DAP deplores the proposal that the Internal Security Act be used against "errant" foreign media reporters and calls on the New Straits Times to declare whether the call reflects its official position.
Yesterday, the NST carried a commentary by Abdullah Tan which, among other things, said:
"Malaysians are generally aggrieved by CNBC’s and AWSJ’s sensationalist reports on Malaysia. Many would also ask of them to stop taking sides, stop being prejudiced, and, to be fair to Dr. Mahathir. Otherwise, we would urge the Malaysian Government to adopt Singapore-style ‘hardball’ tactics with the Press where errant media companies and their reporters will be sued, have their circulation banned, and errant reporters detained under the ISA."
Malaysians can agree that the press, both foreign and local, must be held to the highest standards of responsible and fair journalism and that there must be mechanism to enforce such journalistic ethics and standards - and that the press should be prepared to be sued in court for any irresponsible, mischievous or malicious reporting.
But this must be the first time in the history of Malaysian journalism that newspapers are calling for the use of detention-without-trial laws like the Internal Security Act to detain so-called "errant" foreign media reporters for unfavourable reports on Malaysia - which is most deplorable when the abuses of ISA are so manifest and patent over the years.
Instead of being pillars of the freedom of the press, there are Malaysian journalists who see their first duty and role as the subverters of such a fundamental freedom without which there can be no meaningful democracy in the country.