There has recently been an unhealthy attack on satellite TV broadcaster Astro for running four channels featuring Chinese programmes from Hong Kong and Taiwan when the overwhelming majority of the 28 channels operated by Astro are foreign English channels.
If foreign Chinese programmes are objectionable, then this should be extended to all foreign programmes, regardless of language. If this principle is applied, then Astro will have to close down for apart from RTM 1 and 2 and TV3, there would not be any programme left for Astro to transmit.
In Iran, after the victory of the reformists in the parliamentary elections last month, the reformers have pledged to end the ban on satellite dishes to permit a free flow of information necessary for a civil and democratic society.
It is most ironical that in Malaysia, which claims to be more open and democratic than Iran, and which has made a promise to the world of no Internet censorship, attempts are being made by certain quarters to stem the free flow of information which is the very essence of the "No Internet Censorship" guarantee.
Complaints and criticisms about the lack of local Chinese programmes on Astro are legitimate, but this cannot be used to demand the discontinuation of the existing four Chinese channels with programmes from Hong Kong and Taiwan unless the discontinuation is extended all foreign programmes, which would cover virtually all the Astro channels.
After all, if there are no foreign programmes on Astro, nobody would be interested to subscribe to Astro just to watch RTM 1, 2 and TV3.
ASTRO should be encouraged to introduce a new channel on local Chinese programmes instead of being attacked for having four Chinese channels featuring Hong Kong and Taiwan programmes.