Grant press freedom charter to the 40 journalists in JMTM to freely report on Malaysian news and views with immunity from government reprisals or press self-censorship
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Second Finance Minister, Datuk Jamaludin Jarjis yesterday said the Joint Media Team Malaysia (JMTM) must be made permanent and should not be just event-based.
Commending the team for their reports on the Iraq war, Jamaludin said that if previously Malaysians had to rely heavily on foreign media reports for major international events, “this time around, we can get our own stories and pictures, unbiased and real”.
More important than shopping for another country to send the JMTM is to make JMTM a really Malaysian event first, freely reporting on developments in the country so that Malaysians do not have to depend on foreign media or the Internet to know about what is happening in the country.
Deputy Information Minister, Datuk Zainuddin Maidin has been waxing eloquent about the freedom of Malaysian journalists on the JMTM to report on the Iraq war, “not like the American journalists who are biased in their report on the war”.
He said: "Our journalists in Iraq have the freedom to report regardless of whether they like or dislike the war, while American journalists have to sign a military document, pledging a biased report as directed.”
Are the 40 journalists in the JMTM from local news organizations who covered the US invasion of Iraq entitled to do in Malaysia what they had done in Iraq, the freedom to report on Malaysia whether they like or dislike the Barisan Nasional or any particular government policy or measure?
DAP proposes a modest start on the road towards greater press freedom and a free, independent and responsible press in Malaysia – the granting of a press freedom charter to the 40 journalists in the JMTM to freely report on Malaysians news and views with immunity from any government reprisals, whether legal, administrative or other subtle forms of pressure such as phone calls, as well as from self-censorship of the media organizations. Can Jamaludin raise this proposal in the Cabinet meeting tomorrow?
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman