Tuesday, May 3, 2011

DAP: Freedom of press ensures government accountability

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal

May 03, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, May 3 — DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng wants Putrajaya to repeal all “repressive” laws prohibiting a free and unbiased press in the country.

He said today that a free and fair press, coupled with the repeal of laws such as the Printing Presses and Publication Act (PPPA), the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the Official Secrets Act (OSA), would help ensure that the ruling government was accountable for its actions and transparent.

“A free media can uphold the truth as well as lessen corruption and discrepancies, it has been proven with looking at countries practising a free press; they are generally cleaner,” Lim (picture) said in a statement today.

The Penang chief minister said that a Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill was needed to replace the current laws, and the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) states of Penang and Selangor were examples of the success of the FOI.

“In the administrative level, PR states including Penang have proven that corruption can be lessened through competency, accountability and transparency (CAT). Penang’s efforts have been recognised not only by the Auditor-General but also Transparency International (TI),” said Lim.

He lamented how PR’s efforts were not recognised and given adequate coverage by the mainstream media, and said this was because they were controlled by Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN).

He said National Union of Journalists (NUJ) president Hata Wahari’s sacking from Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia proved his point.

“In recent times, some mainstream media like TV3 and Utusan Malaysia do not care about decency... they can even air pornography as news to make Pakatan leaders look bad without any proper evidence,” he added, in reference to TV3’s coverage of the sex video allegedly involving PR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Malaysia is ranked 143 out of 196 countries surveyed worldwide in the latest media freedom study, which shows it is not free.

Together with Angola and Madagascar, it earned a score of 64 out of 100, which is considered not free.

In the Freedom of the Press Index, the lower the evaluation score the freer the country.

The countries are evaluated based on legal, political and economic environments.

In Southeast Asia, Malaysia ranks below East Timor (18), the Philippines (21), Indonesia (23), Thailand (29) and Cambodia (30) but above Singapore (32), Brunei (34) and Vietnam (36).

The world top spot went to Finland. Norway and Sweden both tied for second place, followed by Belgium, Iceland and Luxembourg for fourth.

According to the Freedom of the Press Survey 2011 released in conjunction with World Press Day today, the overall freedom of the media has plunged to its lowest in over a decade.

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