The Power Of SMS

11 journalists killed, 50 abducted since 2005 – UNP parliamentarian

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on June 13, 2009


“Eleven journalists have been killed while fifty have been abducted from 2005 up to now,” Joseph Michael Perera, Gampaha district parliamentarian and United National Party (UNP) Chief Whip said in Sri Lanka parliament presenting a special report Wednesday morning, sources in Colombo said. Meanwhile, five media organizations staged a protest demonstration Wednesday around 3:00 p.m in Colombo Vihara Mahadevi Park, condemning the abduction of and assault on journalist Bothala Jeyantha.

Hundreds of media persons along with opposition parliamentarians participated in the above demonstration which concluded around 4:30 p.m with a meeting held in J. R. Jayawardene Hall close by.

Five media organizations including Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA), Ceylon Tamil Journalists Alliance (SLTJA) and Free Media Movement (FMM) had jointly organized the protest demonstration.

UNP Kurunagala district parliamentarian, Dayasiri Dayasekara, Mangala Samaraweera, convener SLFP(M), Dr. Vickrmabahu Karunaratne, leader of New Leftist Front were some of the prominent political personages who participated in the demonstration.




“State terrorism is threatening the media,” Mangala Samaraweera said in his speech.

Joseph Michael Perera extended a request in the Parliament Wednesday to appoint a special committee to investigate into the attacks on journalists.

He continued to say that eleven journalists have been killed and fifty journalists abducted since 2005 and added that the government had done nothing to protect the journalists and it had neither arrested nor produced anyone before the law in this issue.

Minister Anura Priyatharsana, however, in response said that there was no need to appoint a special committee as investigations are being made into the attacks against journalists.





Reporters’ groups urge PM to free the media

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on May 3, 2009

The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, May 3 – Two Malaysian reporters’  groups have asked Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for a road map on media freedoms over the next two years, noting the Prime Minister has yet to take concrete steps to open up the press.

In commemorating World Press Freedom Day 2009 today, the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and Writer Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI) said the road map on media freedom for democracy entails an immediate halt to any form of censorship of news, views and opinions, and to suspend the use of the licensing provision in the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) that gives the government arbitrary powers in deciding the terms for publications.

CIJ and WAMI also would like to remind governments that it is high time reforms are put in place involving media and access to information laws.

“We expect to see a road map presented to the public by August that contains plans and timelines for what will be done to reform the areas of media freedom and access to information. We want to know when, and not if, the government will begin its review of the laws that affect freedom of expression,” CIJ executive director V. Gayathry said in a statement issued yesterday.

“Following this, by November, the government should table a bill to amend the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the Communications and Multimedia Act to provide for a one-time registration for media outlets and to reinstate/include judicial review of the Minister’s decision with regard to issuance of permit. At the same time Najib should first set up a Parliamentary Select Committee to review media laws,” said Wong Chin Huat, who leads WAMI.

They both added that, despite the strong message delivered by voters in the Election 2008 to reject censorship and control of media and information by delivering a blow to Barisan Nasional, the ruling coalition has not taken any concrete steps to demonstrate its openness to change.

They cited the latest restriction on Internet media by the BN-led Perak government from its state assembly scheduled on the May 7, saying it was grossly inconsistent with the “1 Malaysia” concept propounded by Najib.

“ We note, worryingly, that despite the rhetoric of openness in 1 Malaysia, the new PM administration is reversing the former PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s recognition of professionally-run Internet media by regularly restricting them from covering official functions,” they said in the joint statement.

Both noted the federal government was “implicitly threatening bloggers and online commentators with the Communication and Multimedia Act and the Internal Security Act”, as Information Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim had said the ministry would take action with those laws against those who criticised the Perak Royal House online.

In their statement, The CIJ-WAMI declared the government should have the following road map:

No Censorship

Suspend the use of the licensing provision in the Printing Presses and Publications Act on newspapers and publications to demonstrate goodwill on the part of the ruling government to lessen its control and censorship of information and expression through the media.

In addition, the government should commit to no censorship of news, views and opinions in public fora, the broadcast media and online spaces.
DEADLINE: AUGUST 2009 (Three months)

Road Map on Reforms Presented to the Public

The Federal and State Governments should present their road map on reforms proposed in the area of promoting media freedom and citizen’s access to public information, to the public.

Talks of reforms are pointless if they are not supported by concrete steps and measures that the public can assess and measure the political parties against.
DEADLINE: NOVEMBER 2009 (Six months)

Amendments to the PPPA

Efforts are put in place to table amendments to the PPPA by the end of the year to provide that (a) all media outlets only need to register with the Ministry without printing licence or annual publishing permit; (b) and the judicial review is reinstated.

Setting up of a Parliamentary Select Committee on Media Law Reform

An Inter-Parliamentary Select Committee on Media Law Reform should be set up within the next six months that will monitor the state of freedom of information and expression in Malaysia and initiative a public participation process to review the laws that have a negativ impact on media freedom and freedom of expression.

Among others, the Select Committee can begin by reviewing laws such as the PPPA, the Official Secrets Act, Sedition Act and the Internal Security Act for repeal, amend laws such as the Communications and Multimedia Act, and enacting a Right to Information Law.
DEADLINE: MAY 2011 (One to two years)

Enactment of a Right to Information Law

Globally, over 80 countries have adopted the right to information law and Malaysia is not among the trend setters.

This law is imperative for any efforts to have good and clean governments and where the citizens can enjoy full acceess to public information. The enactment of the right to information law should also involve a thorough amendment or complete repeal of the Official Secrets Act.

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Kejatuhan Umno kerana sekat kebebasan akhbar

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on April 30, 2009

Harakah Daily

Sebelum Perang Dunia Kedua, di bawah jajahan Inggeris, akhbar tidak juga bebas. Namun begitu, ia masih ada ruang besar untuk membicarakan banyak isu, khususnya mengenai Islam dan hal ehwal agama Islam serta juga soal kemerdekaan. Sememangnya pihak berkuasa penjajah mengambil perhatian terhadap apa yang dinyatakan oleh akhbar-akhbar, termasuk akhbar Melayu.

Secara umum, penjajah akan mengambil berat jika sesebuah akhbar itu menghasut dengan mengajak orang ramai bangkit menentang penjajah dengan menggunakan senjata. Tetapi kalau sekadar memperjuangkan nasib bangsa dan menentang ketidakadilan, bagi penjajah Inggeris itu tidak menjadi masalah. Secara umumnya,akhbar dalam zaman penjajah Inggeris adalah lebih bebas daripada masa sekarang. Untuk mengukur secara tepat, maka wajar dibuat penyelidikan sejarah.

Kongkongan British

Bagaimanapun kongkongan yang dikenakan oleh pihak berkuasa Inggeris adalah juga tidak patut. Mengapakah Britain yang mengamalkan demokrasi dan kebebasan akhbar di negara sendiri telah menafikan hak yang sama di tanah-tanah jajahan? Walau bagaimanapun, layanannya terhadap akhbar Melayu, Inggeris dan Cina adalah juga berbeza-beza.

Kajian sejarah akan membolehkan seseorang membuat penilaian akhbar mana di antara ketiga-tiga itu yang paling dikongkong. Tetapi akhbar bahasa Inggeris yang diterbitkan oleh orang Inggeris sendiri seperti The Straits Times, The Straits Echo dan The Malay Mail turut dikongkong. Andai kata mereka mengkritik dasar-dasar pihak berkuasa penjajah, maka pasti mereka ditegur.

Hakikatnya ialah dasar mengawal kebebasan akhbar adalah sebahagian daripada fahaman imperialisme yang bercanggah dengan demokrasi dan hak asasi manusia. Di Tanah Melayu pada zaman penjajah, kongkongan di negeri-negeri Melayu adalah lebih ketat daripada di negeri-negeri Selat.

Di negeri-negeri Melayu termasuk Negeri-negeri Melayu Bersekutu (FMS) dan Negeri-negeri Melayu Tidak Bersekutu (UFMS), sebarang komen mengenai Melayu lebih-lebih lagi kaitannya dengan Raja-raja Melayu, adat istiadat Melayu dan apatah lagi mengenai agama Islam amat dikongkong.

Walaupun di bawah penjajahan Inggeris tetapi pihak berkuasa Inggeris mengiktiraf kedaulatan Raja-Raja Melayu dan penguasaannya terhadap agama Islam. Maka jika terdapat penerbitan Melayu yang kritikal terhadap soal bangsa dan agama, maka mereka pasti dikenakan tindakan. Soal politik pastinya dipandang dengan penuh curiga.

Justeru, penerbit-penerbit berasa bebas untuk menerbitkan akhbar-akhbar di negeri-negeri Selat khususnya Singapura dan Pulau Pinang. Maka tidak hairanlah Utusan Melayu yang mula diterbitkan pada tahun 1930-an memilih Singapura sebagai tempatnya. Tetapi bukan saja aktiviti penerbitan yang lebih bebas di negeri-negeri Selat, aktiviti lain seperti penubuhan persatuan lebih bebas di Singapura. Maka tidak hairanlah persatuan Melayu pertama yang ditubuhkan ialah di Singapura iaitu Persatuan Melayu Singapura.

Kawalan tambah ketat

Semasa pemerintahan Jepun, pengawalan akhbar bertambah ketat dan teruk tetapi wartawan Melayu tetap bekerja di bawah Jepun itu. Mereka cuba berusaha mengambil ruang-ruang yang ada untuk memperjuangkan kepentingan bangsa, agama dan negara. Kisah ini jelas dipaparkan oleh Samad Ismail dalam novelnya Patah Sayap Terbang Jua.

Selepas Jepun menyerah, akhbar mengecapi lebih kebebasan, pada awalnya lebih luas lagi kerana pihak berkuasa penjajah belum masuk mengawal. Pada masa ini Pentadbiran Tentera British (BMA) belum benar-benar menunjukkan taringnya. Maka sesiapapun boleh menerbitkan akhbar sendiri.

Kisah ini dipaparkan oleh Ahmad Boestamam dalam bukunya Merintis Jalan Ke Puncak yang menceritakan bagaimana beliau menerbitkan akhbar Suara Rakyat dan Voice of the People di Taiping dengan mengkritik pihak penjajah secara bebas. Hanya kemudian BMA meminta akhbar itu memohon maaf setiap hari tetapi tidak menganggu tulisan yang tersiar.

Namun begitu, kawalan yang ada oleh pihak penjajah tidaklah seketat berbanding zaman merdeka. Itu ironinya. Akhbar lebih merdeka sebelum merdeka daripada selepas merdeka. Utusan Melayu bebas melaporkan apa saja. Selain itu terdapat juga akhbar Melayu lain yang bebas iaitu Warta Malaya.

Keadaan berubah selepas merdeka. Utusan Melayu dibeli oleh Umno dan bermulalah kawalan terhadap akhbar itu. Walaupun keberatan, Yusof Ishak, pemiliknya terpaksa tunduk kepada kehendak penguasa politik ketika itu iaitu Tunku Abdul Rahman. Wartawannya membantah dipimpin oleh pengarangnya Said Zahari. Tetapi mereka tidak berkuasa dan sejak itu Utusan Melayu dikawal oleh Umno.

Kongkongan terhadap Utusan Melayu berlaku selepas ia berhijrah ke Kuala Lumpur. Maknanya di Singapura, ia lebih bebas. Tetapi kemudian walaupun Yusof Ishak menjadi Presiden Singapura, akhbar Utusan Melayu diharamkan masuk ke Singapura. Ini ekoran laporannya yang dikatakan sebagai menghasut rusuhan kaum di Singapura. Maka zaman penjajah lebih memberi kebebasan daripada era Tunku Abdul Rahman dan Lee Kuan Yew.

Akhbar mulanya lebih bebas

Bagaimanapun ketika pilihan raya tahun 1964, terdapat tiga akhbar Melayu yang utama iaitu Utusan Melayu, Berita Harian dan Warta Negara. Keadaan masa itu, walaupun berdepan dengan konfrontasi dari Indonesia, suasana akhbar adalah lebih bebas daripada hari ini.

Sememangnya Utusan Melayu dan Berita Harian cenderung menyokong Perikatan yang memerintah. Tetapi Warta Negara yang teredar luas di bahagian utara Semenanjung memberi liputan yang saksama kepada PAS. Selepas pilihan raya, Warta Negara dibeli oleh Utusan Melayu.

Bertambah maju negara ini, bertambah terkongkong akhbarnya. Elit politik negara pimpinan Umno tidak menghormati atau menghargai kepentingan kebebasan akhbar. Akhirnya polisi ini memakan tuan.

Setelah generasi bergenerasi, rakyat hilang keyakinan terhadap akhbar arus perdana. Pada asalnya kongkongan akhbar bertujuan untuk mengukuhkan kuasa, tetapi akhirnya apabila kekuasaan itu tidak berasaskan pada kejujuran, maka keyakinan seseorang kepada penguasa terjejas, sekali dengan akhbar kongkongannya.

Kebenaran sendiri tidak boleh dikongkong. Kalau di zaman Kersatuan Soviet dahulu, ada dua akhbar utama yang dikongkong iaitu Pravda yang bermakna kebenaran dan Izvestia bermaksud berita, maka di Malaysia ada Utusan Malaysia dan ada Berita Harian. Hakikatnya tidak ada kebenaran dalam Pravda, dan juga tidak ada berita dalam Izvestia. Orang lebih mempercayai Samizdat, lembaran gelap pada zaman Soviet.

Di Malaysia orang lebih percaya surat layang pada tahun 70-an. Ini diikuti dengan kaset pada tahun 80-an, dan kemudian laman web pada tahun 90-an dan blog pada tahun 2000-an. Kebenaran akan mencari jalan sendiri dan akhirya Parti Komunis Kesatuan Soviet tumbang dengan Kesatuan Soviet juga tamat tempohnya. Kini akhbar bebas di sana.

Begitu juga di Indonesia. Akhirnya rejim Suharto tumbang dan kini akhbar bebas di sana. Lihatlah dalam sejarah. Penjajah Inggeris yang menguasai akhbar akhirnya tumbang. Begitu juga dengan penjajah Jepun. Begitu juga dengan parti komunis Soviet. Begitu juga dengan Suharto.

Siapa mengawal akhbar akhirnya akan tumbang. Ini adalah satu ingatan kepada Parti Komunis China dan kerajaan PAP di Singapura. Terhadap Malaysia, fikirlah sendiri. Ingatan ini bukan saja ditujukan kepada kerajaan Barisan Nasional tetapi juga Pakatan Rakyat._

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Did Najib direct or approve ban on private TV station reporting of Altantuya C4 murder case?

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on April 18, 2009

Lim Kit Siang

lks-web25The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, should explain whether he had directed or approved the ban on four private television stations when reporting the Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu C4 murder case.

Malaysiakini has reported that the four private TV stations, TV3, ntv7, 8TV and tv9, have been directed by their owner, Media Prima Berhad, closely linked to Umno, to observe four “don’ts” involving news reports relating to the murder case, including:

• No naming of political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda and to ignore all news background related to him.

• No visuals showing Razak Baginda in previous trials and after his release .

• No reporting that Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor were linked to the case.

• No reporting of statements from those accusing Najib and Rosmah of being involved in the case.

Is such a ban the first fruit of Najib’s “new way forward” for the “new media”, a subject he addressed at the MPI-Petronas Malaysian Journalism Awards ceremony three days after he was sworn in as Prime Minister? MORE…

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Suara Keadilan terus dirampas; Pengedar persoal janji Najib

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on April 18, 2009

Suara Keadilan

KUALA LUMPUR, 17 APRIL (SK) – Kementerian Dalam Negeri hari ini dilaporkan merampas akhbar Suara Keadilan dan Harakah di sekitar Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Menurut seorang pengedar Suara Keadilan, Geogie Ganesan pihaknya telah menerima aduan daripada penjual mengenai rampasan yang telah berlaku di tiga buah kedai kawasan tersebut.

Katanya beliau bergegas ke Pustaka Mukmin di Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman setelah menerima panggilan bahawa Suara Keadilan dirampas pada jam 12.50 petang tadi.

Ganesan mempersoalkan tindakan yang dilakukan oleh KDN sedangkan Najib telah menarik balik pergantungan ketika hari pertama beliau dilantik Perdana Menteri.

“Sekarang Suara Keadilan dirampas, Najib telah menarik balik larangan jualan. Namun hari ini apa yang terjadi? Maklumat terus dikengkang,” katanya kepada Suara Keadilan hari ini.

Dalam operasi yang dilakukan hari ini, KDN menerusi Unit Penguatkuasa Bahagian Kawalan Penerbitan dan Teks Al Quran telah merampas kira-kira 16 akhbar Suara Keadilan dan dan 13 naskah Harakah di Pustaka Mukmin.

Selain itu dilaporkan kira-kira 80 naskah telah dirampas di dua kedai lain, seperti mana yang dikatakan oleh Ganesan.

Ganesan menambah, KDN harus memperjelaskan secara terperinci mengenai rampasan yang telah dilakukan.

“KDN kenalah beritahu secara terperinci. Kalau tak boleh jual, kenapa Najib tarik balik larangan? Ini telah bercanggah,” katanya dengan nada tegas kepada kami.

Beliau turut meminta agar KDN tidak merampas akhbar yang dijual oleh pembaca dan sekiranya Suara Keadilan tidak boleh dijual, larangan harus dikeluarkan kepada syarikat pengeluar.

“Jangan kacau penjual. KDN harus ambil tindakan kepada pengeluar atau penerbit, bukan peniaga,” katanya lagi.

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Fearless reporting needs free environment

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on April 9, 2009

The Nut Graph

Gayathry Venkiteswaran

IN response to Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Najib Razak‘s 6 April 2009 speech on encouraging a national dialogue through the media, the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) asks for a more concrete set of commitments in realising the PM’s vision.

Najib Razak (Pic courtesy of theSun)To foster a transparent “national discourse” that leads to the building of democracy, the government must first and foremost be willing to let the public set the agenda of the dialogue through an unrestricted media. Any government attempt to define the parameters for what constitutes “fair” dialogue will not be reflective of the public’s needs. 

The PM’s vision presupposes certain conditions which he has yet to publicly commit to. For one, the public must be empowered with access to information in order to participate in an informed and responsible debate. The existing control of information via the Official Secrets Act and a general culture of governmental secrecy do not inspire confidence for the new PM’s vision. The law places disproportionate power in the hands of the executive and bureaucrats, instead of in the public for the sake of accountability.  
Secondly, licensing of the media continues to impede fearless and responsible reporting. This and political ownership of the media create a condition where the ruling government’s agenda can easily dominate newsrooms. As recent as March this year, Deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Heung acknowledged routine surveillance and action against the media by the ministry. Without the relaxation of such controls, newsrooms will still have to play a cat-and-mouse game about the spaces they have in Najib’s grand vision.  
Thirdly, the public needs to be convinced that they can speak out without any backlash against them. The Sedition Act, which covers sedition and seditious tendencies broadly, as well as the Internal Security Act which allow for indefinite detention without trial, inculcate fear and discourage expression. Far from defining the rules of expression and encouraging self-regulation, the laws are a blanket ban that is easily subjected to government abuse.  
CIJ calls for the repeal of the above laws as the first in the series of requirements to meet the vision set forth. In the midst of a general scepticism against the new administration, Najib must go beyond the rhetoric to demonstrate the sincerity of his “new way forward”.

Gayathry Venkiteswaran 
Executive Director
8 April 2009

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Violence Silences Voices of Sri Lankan Journalists

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on April 6, 2009

“The offensive against journalists is part of the government’s all-out strategy to win the war with the Tamil Tigers,” said Bob Dietz, the Asia program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists

The New York Times

RATMALANA, Sri Lanka — A blue plastic bag sits crumpled on the floor, easy to overlook, in the office of Lal Wickramatunga, the managing editor of The Sunday Leader.

 Inside the bag are the clothes and shoes of a dead man — the things his brother Lasantha, 52, was wearing on Jan. 8 when eight masked thugs on motorcycles smashed the window of his car and shot him to death.

“I keep them as an inspiration,” Mr. Wickramatunga said, “because if we don’t take what happened and make Sri Lanka a better place, then Lasantha will have died in vain.”

His brother was editor in chief of the newspaper and was one of at least eight journalists who have been killed in recent years in what appears to be a broad Sri Lankan government campaign to silence dissenting voices.

Many others have been kidnapped or assaulted, according to the reports of press monitoring agencies. Many have stopped writing or have capitulated in self-censorship. Dozens are under arrest, and dozens more have fled the country.

No one has been brought to trial for an attack on a journalist, the press monitoring agencies say.

The press advocacy group Reporters Without Borders ranked Sri Lanka 165th last year out of 173 countries in terms of press freedom — by far the lowest democracy on the list. It called Sri Lanka the fourth most dangerous country for journalists, after Iraq, Somalia and Pakistan.

Mr. Wickramatunga’s killing came two days after attackers blew up the control room of the country’s main independent television station, and two weeks before another newspaper editor was beaten in his car and fled the country.

His final article was about his own killing before it happened, an essay titled “And Then They Came for Me.” It ran the following Sunday in the newspaper, which is printed in this town on the southern outskirts of Colombo, the capital.

“Electronic and print-media institutions have been burnt, bombed, sealed and coerced,” he wrote. “Countless journalists have been harassed, threatened and killed. It has been my honor to belong to all those categories and now especially the last.”

And he added: “When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.”

The government said it had no hand in these attacks, but it is quite open in accusing its critics in the press of treason and even terrorism as it fights to end a 25-year-long Tamil separatist rebellion.

“The ministry will continue to expose these traitors and their sinister motives and does not consider such exposure as a threat to media freedom,” the Defense Ministry said on its Web site last year.

The site then named several media outlets as culprits, after which all came under attack, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, an international press-freedom monitoring group.

In one of the latest attacks, Nadesapillai Vithyatharan, a newspaper editor, was seized by armed men while he was attending a funeral on Feb. 26 and remains in detention, accused of conspiring with terrorists.

He was driven away in a white van, a vehicle that has come to symbolize the abductions that have terrorized Sri Lanka. “He was taken in bright daylight in front of hundreds of people — the culture of impunity writ large,” a fellow journalist said.

“It’s probably better that I’m not quoted,” the journalist said, asking that his name not be used. “I prefer not to be identified as someone who gives opinions in any way because that will directly affect my work.”

The government justifies its press controls as part of its war effort, and it has barred independent reporters from the combat area. But it seems to be reaching well beyond issues that involve the war.

“The offensive against journalists is part of the government’s all-out strategy to win the war with the Tamil Tigers,” said Bob Dietz, the Asia program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“The fear is that it will smother any criticism of the government in the future,” he said. “This is a government turning in a bad direction.”

Already the chill has spread from the reporters themselves to the people they interview, said Mervin Denegama, a reporter for Irudina, a Sinhala-language paper that shares ownership with The Sunday Leader.

“Now economists, professors, politicians, professional persons, they don’t want to speak to us,” Mr. Denegama said. “They say: ‘You cannot use my name. You can write but without my name.’ They are afraid.”

Some reporters, too, are afraid to use their names, he said, retreating behind pseudonyms.

“But I am using my own name,” he said. “We must write about real situations. It is our duty. We want to reveal the truth.”

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Suara Keamanan now from Suara KeADILan and Hujah replaces Harakah

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on April 1, 2009

Din Merican

From Suara Keadilan to Suara Keamanan

suara keamanan 310309A new party publication is set to hit the streets today to replace the banned Suara Keadilan, announced PKR today.

The popular Suara Keadilan and PAS’ Harakah were handed a three-month suspension by the Home Ministry last week for apparently inciting hatred against the government.

The party today said that it has decided to adhere to the ban and not publish Suara Keadilan until the suspension expires. However as a replacement, the party said that it would be coming out with a new weekly publication called Suara Keamanan (picture). “It will be available for our readers from today (March 31)“, said Suara Keamanan’s editorial team in a statement.

Suara Keamanan will be published without a printing permission from the Home Ministry as “it does not require such a permission as it is not a periodical”. The newspaper’s editorial team also said that readers will be able to purchase the new publication from the same dealers and distributors as Suara Keadilan. The first edition of Suara Keamanan played up the three upcoming by-elections on April 7.

PKR is contesting in two of the by-elections. The main headline of the edition says ‘Kubur BN’ (BN’s grave) and carries photographs of PKR’s candidate in Bukit Selambau S Manikumar and its Batang Ai candidate Jawah Gerang.

The front page also contained a photo of PAS’ Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin who is contesting in Bukit Selambau.

Harakah is now Hujah

On March 23, the Home Ministry suspended both Suara Keadilan and PAS’ Harakah for three months with immediate effect. Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar was reported as saying that the two newspapers were suspended because they had violated the conditions of their permits and for inciting “hatred” against the government.

According to him, the two party organs often published articles which questioned royalty and sensationalised news that were defamatory and aimed at causing confusion and disharmony in society.

In a similar fashion, Harakah is also expected to launch an alternate publication named Hujah. The first issue will be out on Friday (April 3).

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The gagging of Malaysia’s media

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on March 28, 2009

Newspapers and now online publishers are under increasing threat from politicians in the run up to important by elections

Democracy and freedom of expression in Malaysia are further threatened following the suspension of two main opposition newspapers yesterday. Harakah, the official voice of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), and Suara Keadilan, published by the Anwar Ibrahim-led Parti Keadilan Rakyat (The People’s Justice Party), were told to stop publication for three months with immediate effect.

It is not difficult to relate this latest action, feared by some to be the beginning of a media crackdown, to recent political developments in the country. Three important byelections – one parliamentary and two state assembly seats – are to take place in the next two weeks. With the controversial deputy prime minister Najib Razak expected to take over from PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in a week’s time, winning the byelections is crucial for the scandal-ridden prime minister in waiting to assert his power and revive the authority and reputation of the ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

Another blow to the independent media came today, when six internet media organisations were barred from covering UMNO’s annual general assembly, held on 24 to 28 March. These include The Malaysian Insider, Merdeka Online and Malaysiakini, popular for providing alternative and critical views of the government and corrupt politicians. Being refused press tags to the event, they were told: “The way you report about our party and about our leaders is very sickening.”

In Malaysia, the mainstream media serve as the voice of the ruling party and keep a blind eye on the opposition parties, or worse still, instill distrust for them in the public mind. One example is the accusation against opposition leader Teresa Kok MP of inciting racial hatred and religious insensitivity, which led to her arrest under the internal security act in September 2008. The online media become alternative voices for the people and are acting as watchdogs. Some of their columnists, such as Raja Petra Kamarudin, openly criticise the government and its leaders for their corrupt acts and injustice. This kind of information helps to arouse awareness among the people, opening their eyes to the reality that has escaped them for decades since the country achieved its independence. It is a civil right to be watchful and critical of an elected government. As such, it sounded absurd when the home minister Syed Hamid Albar, giving explanation for the suspension of the media, said they “were punished for inciting hatred against the government”.

With the Chinese edition of the Rocket, the official publication of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) yet to be granted a renewal licence, freedom of expression and of the media – already ranked 132 out of 173 by the Reporters Without Borders on its worldwide press freedom index – seems to be seriously at risk. That really is sickening.

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Penggantungan Harakah, tembakan pemedih mata dan pencalonan Nizar – Ahmad Lutfi Othman

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on March 27, 2009


MAC 25 – Isnin, Mac 23, hari bergelora. Meskipun tiada hujan, namun langit kelabu. Sejak Harakah dilancarkan 22 tahun lalu, tiada detik sukar seperti petang itu.

Tepat jam 4.55 petang, faks dari Bahagian Kawalan Penerbitan, Kementerian Dalam Negeri, memancung keheningan pejabat. Saya agak keletihan, baru pulang dari Putrajaya. Fikrah Harakah edisi Isnin menunggu untuk diisi. Bahan belum mencukupi.

Sebaik keluar lif di tingkat dua, rakan wartawan Nyza Ayob menyapa: “Dah tengok surat KDN?’ Tanpa menjangka sesuatu yang buruk bakal berlaku, saya hanya menggeleng. Entah kenapa, tiba-tiba sahaja debar jantung berdegup kencang.

“Harakah kena gantung tiga bulan!” Maklum Nyza, masih tersenyum. Bagi saya, ia bagai petir menyambar. Surat ringkas dua perenggan hanya memaklumkan KDN menggantung permit lidah rasmi PAS yang kini sudah dianggap akhbar alternatif no. 1 itu, selama tiga bulan berkuatkuasa serta merta.

Terdetik di hati, “masakan secepat itu, bukankah baru kelmarin Pengarah Urusan, Dato’ Kamarudin Jaffar menelefon pegawai KDN menjelaskan isu surat tunjuk sebab dari KDN?”

Segera saya memanggil pembantu, Atriza Umar, mencarikan surat bertarikh 26 Feb lalu, yang ditandatangani Che Din Yusoh. Saya mahu dapatkan nombor telefon bimbitnya – sambil menahan sabar – untuk mendapatkan penjelasan. Ya, mengapa KDN harus tergesa-gesa sekali? Dunia belum kiamat. Umno belum terlungkup.

Bukankah selama ini KDN banyak melakukan kesilapan dalam membuat keputusan, sehingga terpaksa menarik balik, atau dalam beberapa kes tahanan ISA, antaranya membabitkan seorang wartawan wanita sebuah akhbar Cina, harus membebaskan segera selepas memberikan alasan penahanan yang tidak masuk akal.

Memang KDN tidak belajar dari kesalahan walaupun menterinya bertukar, perdana menteri bergilir.

Perbualan saya dengan Che Din tidak wajar dirakamkan di sini. Nokhtah.

Saya mula berkhidmat di Harakah seawal seminggu sebelum Harakah hrkh_1







sulung  diterbitkan, April 1987. Walaupun keluar-masuk Harakah lima enam kali, rasa saya tidak pernah sekalipun Harakah gagal diterbitkan atas halangan KDN, waimma satu keluaran.

Apa yang tidak disebut tentang “kediktatoran” Dr Mahathir Mohamad semasa menjadi perdana menteri dan menteri dalam negeri? Namun beliau hanya mencantas kekerapan Harakah, daripada dua kali seminggu kepada dua kali sebulan.

Dalam era reformasi yang memuncak itu, ketika edaran Harakah meningkat daripada 60,000 naskhah sehingga mencecah 400,000 naskhah, dan Mahathir cemas menghadapi pilihan paling getir baginya, 1999, tetapi Harakah tidak pernah diganggu seteruk ini.

Memang jualannya dihadkan kepada ahli PAS di premis parti sahaja dan kandungannya ditekankan agar mematuhi skop dan konsep yang diluluskan, iaitu hanya memuatkan berita dan rencana yang berkaitan PAS sahaja, tetapi arahan gantung, apatah lagi selama 3 tahun – satu tempoh yang relatif panjang – tidak pernah dikuat-kuasakan.

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi pula, selepas kalah lebih teruk pada 8 Mac 2008, yakin lebih buruk berbanding prestasi Mahathir pada Nov 1999, namun beliau tetap menerima permohonan PAS untuk mengembalikan kekerapan Harakah kepada dua kali seminggu. Ada tanda jiwa besar di situ.

Lalu, bahana siapakah yang mencetuskan onar sedahsyat ini? Menterinya masih Syed Hamid Albar, Abdullah tetap PM, tapi siapakah yang mahu percaya dengan dakwaaan bahawa tindakan zalim ini bukan didorong oleh kepentingan politik yang cukup sarat? Zaman sudah berubah. Dunia semakin telus. Media baru membentuk realiti.

Tanpa perlu berpakat, semua mata tertumpu kepada Najib Razak. Tuduhan ditujukan kepadanya.

Beberapa hari lepas saya menelefon Zunar, ketua pengarang Suara Keadilan, memberitahu Harakah kena surat tunjuk sebab, atas alasan teknikal yang lazim digunakan.

Zunar menyanggah tanggapan bahawa Najib akan secepat itu “main kasar” dengan akhbar alternatif. Saya boleh bersetuju dengan Zunar. Kami langsung tidak terlintas Najib akan melakukan perbuatan sehodoh ini.

Malamnya, selepas makan di Restoran Haslam, saya mendapat SMS daripada Azizi Hj Abdullah: “Belum apa-apa gas dan water canon dah disembur di Padang Awam Cinta Sayang, Sungai Petani malam ini. Dajai. Habis cempera.”

Saya terus hubungi wartawan Kedah, Izwan Abdul Halim. Dari jauh, suara Izwan serak, macam menanggung pedih disembur gas pemedih. Segera saya putuskan talian. Darah menyirap lagi. Nampak jelas penggantungan Harakah, Suara Keadilan memang dirancang untuk menghadapi situasi sulit BN terutama pilihan raya kecil dan perhimpunan Umno yang penuh rasuah itu.

Mujur ada berita menyejukkan hati. Ir Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin dipilih calon PAS Bukit Gantang. Peluang Nizar terbuka, tapi tidak boleh diremehkan potensi menang BN. Ini pilihan raya paling kritikal buat Umno.

Banyak peluru yang disimpannya. Kekalahan di Permatang Pauh dan Kuala Terengganu bukan indikator segalanya cerah di sini.

Memang Nizar aset terbaik bagi menguji penerimaan rakyat Perak atas kemelut yang berkecamuk di negeri itu.

Sama-samalah kita bergelut dalam pesta demokrasi yang serba pincang ini, ya … walaupun mungkin tanpa Harakah, berdepan tembakan gas pemedih mata, dan “kesamsengan” jentera BN di bawah pengarah barunya ini, sambil mengharapkan ada kewarasan bagi membetulkan keadaan. –