February 13, 2009


Ideally, in any country that practises or supposedly practises democracy, there should be freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

I believe there should be democracy in the mass media whereby the press practise mature journalistic principles to produce reports that inform and empower the members of society thereby enhancing democratic values in the country and enabling the citizens to be informed and in the know of current events!!

The public are the customers of the mainstream media so the latter should be accountable to the public in creating the democratic expression of truth of the events as seen in the society. Is this the case in Malaysia?

Any news blackout in any democratic country indirectly shows the increased domination of that government over the mass media and the shrinking freedom of expression in that country. Some authorities may speak so much about reforming the mass media, establishing certain organizations and strengthening public service broadcasting. However if and when they do just the opposite, then the ones to suffer are the masses.

Theoretically, when the media dances to the tune of the authorities, media content would be SHARPLY INFLUENCED because the range of news and opinions would be limited, distorted and bias reporting would be more likely to occur. The MSM staff could be in a state of cognitive dissonance - torn between factual reporting and conforming to demands of the authorities. In time to come, would they be robbed not only of their ‘voice’ but also their ‘conscience’ when they cower to the demands and observe boundaries set by the authorities? Then they can all sail happily with the ruling government - in the boat populated by passengers with NO CONSCIENCE!

How can there be equal distribution of information? How can citizens grow up to be rational thinking people when we are ROBBED in broad daylight of the freedom to think and/or the freedom of expression? In the long-run, citizens of such a country would be ZOMBIES who cannot discern what is right and wrong, zombies who would have NO IDEA whatsoever of their rights and what they should do!!! They would, instead, be living in the DARK AGES as political discourses would be as extinct as dinosaurs and dodo birds!!!

So what is happening?


If democratic principles are being compromised, chances are that freedom of the press is being MURDERED!!

An iron hand over the MSM would likely lead to the tragic narrowing of the range of voices and opinions that are being expressed in the mass media to the extent that they are reduced to the status of puppets whose strings are being pulled by the authorities.

If and when such a scenario happens, the news and information being disseminated would be ridiculous to say the least because INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING is NOT ALLOWED OR EVEN ENCOURAGED!! The media in Malaysia can never again (not that it could do that much even in the past) be a public watchdog in our country! They have become the mouthpiece and ‘hailer’ or ‘loudspeaker’ of the authorities who determine what is to be reported and what should not be reported!

Any citizen of a democratic country must realize that the health of a country’s democratic political system depends on EFFICIENT, ACCURATE and COMPLETE transmission of news encompassing the different aspects of society including social, political, cultural news. The MSM, bloggers and alternative media must realize that they are the conduits of this information and that they MUST always act in the public interest!!!

A look at the disturbing trends around the world can tell anyone that the MSM have INCREASINGLY been UNABLE and UNINTERESTED in fulfilling this role because of the iron hand, muzzle and laws that have given them the pressure to conform to the wishes of the authorities concerned!!

So tell me- what has happened?

If democratic principles are undermined, citizens would be unable to participate intelligently let alone knowledgeably in public policy debates which are usually carried out in a hush-hush manner with little publicity.

So with the loss of press freedom, the loss of freedom of expression, there could arise in any democratic country, an uninformed citizenry who have to accept policy issues AS DEFINED by the political elite!!

Then there would exist an alarming lack of representation of truth, views and voices!!!

Dear blog readers, such a situation in many parts of the world today is the impetus factor which has led to the burgeoning growth of online news portals and blogs.

Bloggers are actually filling in the gap or the vacuum left by the MSM because of the muzzle over their mouth. With freedom, there comes the whole element of responsibility.

Therefore, I appeal to netizens in the netted community to exercise caution and restraint in our writing. I keep telling myself the same thing as well. We have to practise self-censorship and always ask others to read our posts to check if we have stepped out of line.

We CANNOT, I repeat, CANNOT give the authorities concerned any reason to clamp down on freedom of expression in cyberspace but we have to write RESPONSIBLY and to watch our language.

God bless you and may God bless Malaysia!