(Petaling Jaya, Monday): In his television interview with the Phoenix Chinese channel of Astro during his recent visit to China, which were telecast yesterday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said one of the country’s greatest threats is the foreign media which is seeking to sabotage Malaysia’s development.
But to Malaysians who want to see the restoration of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance and the development of a peaceful, democratic, prosperous and united Malaysia, one of the greatest obstacles they face is a subservient and irresponsible local media.
In the past few days, I had repeatedly refused to be interviewed by the government television channels, which suddenly took a great interest in me, with TV2 even sending a camera crew to Bayan Lepas in Penang yesterday where the DAP was forming two new branches.
However, I still refused to be interviewed by TV2 as the government or government-controlled media, both electronic and printed, are not dedicated to responsible journalism but only want to distort, vilify and denigrate the Barisan Alternative, totally bereft of the most elementary canons of journalistic ethics.
The latest example of the irresponsible Malaysian mainstream media is the orchestrated attack on Keadilan Youth chief, Ezam Mohd Noor, for wanting to topple the elected government through massive street demonstrations every day, based on a front-page report in the UMNO-run Mingguan Malaysia which has lost all credibility and integrity as far as its political journalism is concerned.
It is not surprising that Mahathir has himself got into the act, which is probably one of the latest creations of the UMNO Dirty Tricks Department, but what is shocking is that the Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Mohamad Jamil Johari should be dragged into the fiasco by announcing that the police itself will lodge a police report to enable the police to initiate investigations that Keadilan plans to hold street demonstrations to topple the government.
What happens if investigations reveal that the allegations are false?
Can the police itself be prosecuted for lodging a false report?
There is no justification for the mainstream media to go overboard with such “a song and dance” on the subject as Ezam had denied the Mingguan Malaysia report, which is acknowledged by today’s Star. I spoke to Ezam by phone just now and he again categorically denied that he had said anything about toppling the elected government through demonstrations although he had spoken of organising demonstrations to allow the people the opportunity to express their many grievances against the Barisan Nasional government.
Another recent example of the irresponsible mainstream media is the dishonest manner in which they mounted an attack on Malaysia’s only online newspaper, Malaysiakini - enlisting this time not only Mahathir but even the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in the offensive.
DAP calls for the urgent establishment of an independent high-powered Media Council to promote free and responsible press with powers to expose all instances of irresponsible foreign and local reporting.
Mahathir and the government can lodge complaints against all instances of unfair reporting by the foreign media, while the Barisan Alternative and Malaysians in general should be able to lodge complaints against all instances of unfair reporting by the mainstream local media - and the Media Council should comprise independent-minded, credible and reputable Malaysians who are entrusted and empowered to expose all instances of irresponsible foreign and local reporting.