There is no doubt that despite The Sun's prompt retraction of the front-page report on the alleged plot to assassinate the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, enormous damage had been done to the political and economic image and interests of the country and this deplorable episode should be a lesson to all, especially to those in the field of Malaysian journalism, of the importance of maintaining the highest standards of journalistic principles and ethics not only for the sake of the maturing of the profession but for the higher national interests.
Although The Sun has yet to make a fulsome "unqualified and unreserved apology" to everyone damaged by its irresponsible front-page report on the assassination plot, it has nonetheless begun to demonstrate a culture of responsibility and accountability which is still sorely lacking in public affairs - as exemplified by the total lack of accountability in the numerous government scandals, whether it be the most recent racial streaming of students in schools, the identification of race and religion in the examination slips of SPM and PMR candidates or the past decades of government scandals of gross inefficiency, incompetence and abuses of power.
What Malaysia needs is the full flowering of the culture
of accountability and responsibility in Malaysia not only in the field
of Malaysian journalism to usher in a new era of responsible, independent
and honest journalism but also in all spheres of public life as represented
by the achievement of ever-higher standards of "good governance" - not
just in speeches but in actual practices.
This should be the focus of national attention rather in any form of follow-up of criminal prosecution for The Sun's blooper.
Let all journalists, newspapers and all forms of mass media, instead of "rejoicing" over the humbling of The Sun, take a serious look at their own journalistic practices to consider how Malaysian journalism can achieve standards, ethics and principles making it the model of responsible, honest and independent journalism not only to developing but also developed nations.
Let all public organisations, particularly the entire government machinery, examine how they could reform and adopt the "best practices" of responsibility and accountability so that "good governance" become meaningful words in both public and private sectors, and not just fashionable but meaningless catch-phrases.