(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): Malaysiakini editor Steven Gan has done Malaysia proud in the international arena by being the first Malaysian journalist to be awarded the International Press Freedom Award.
As one of the four journalists to be selected for 2000 to mark the 10th annual awards by the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based journalist organisation dedicated to the defence of press freedom internationally, sharing the honours with journalists from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Democratic Republic of Congo and a jailed Iranian reformist journalist "for their great courage in the face of enormous risks", Gan is helping to redeem the honour and integrity of many persecuted Malaysian journalists and inspiring all other Malaysian journalists to stand up courageously for the fundamental liberties of freedom of speech, expression and the press.
The blackout of the news of Ganís International Press Freedom Award by the mainstream media, both printed and electronic, is a powerful reminder of the distance that must still be traversed before Malaysians can enjoy the fresh air of press freedom, where newspapers are more than government gazettes, and authoritarian handlers of a muzzled media are made to realise that in the age of information technology, there is no sure and effective way to censor news and information which travel instantaneously on the globe.
Ganís award is testimony that in the enshrouding darkness of Malaysian journalism, the battle for a free press is still not lost - while the inability of Malaysian journalism and journalists to openly celebrate the first international recognition for a Malaysian journalist in the crusade for press freedom serves notice that such a battle is still at a very initial stage. Malaysia needs more Steven Gans to usher in the springtime of press freedom to the country.