The two principles of media and freedom of press:
1. There is nothing absolute in this world. Freedom must always be limited with something and/or the environment that binds it
2. For every tool that we have, there is always more than one ways to use it; be it for good or evil deeds
That is what former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said at the opening of his keynote address this morning, dedicating the Perdana Discourse Series titled “Media and National Development”, at Perdana Leadership Foundation, Precinct 8, Putrajaya.
Over 250 people turned up. His distinguished guests include Tan Sri Sanusi Junid, former MB Kedah and Cabinet Minister, Tengku Tan Sri Razaleigh Hamzah, former Cabinet Minister and party President, Tan Sri Michael Chen, former President of Senate and Cabinet Minister, Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad, former Ambassador and Executive Chairman of NSTP, Tan Sri Mazlan Noordin, former Editorial Adviser of NST, Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Arif, former CEO of Proton, Tan Sri Mazlan Ahmad, former Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, Tan Sri Abdul Halil Mutalib, former LADA General Manager and DG of Customs and Tan Sri Dr. Mustapha Babjee, former DG of Vetenary Services.
Some of the All Blogs people were also there like Rocky, Nuraina A Samad, Zorro Unmasked, Zahrin “Sang Kelembai” Yassin and Raja Petra Kamaruddin of Malaysia Today. So did ‘Rantings by MM’ blog operator, Dato’ Paduka Marina Mahathir. The media students from UiTM were also present as the co-organiser is the UiTM think tank for civilisation, InQKA.
Tun Dr. Mahathir also said that when any of the world media talked about the press being controlled, they will never fail to mention Malaysia. Media is very important to disseminate information. Like a knife, it can be used positively and also can be used, negatively.
He said further that information that media brings will help the process of decision making, especially when people are “in the dark” about situation that surrounds them. The people should be wise enough to study and select which information is positive for them and it will be used for progress. However, sometime choose to tell media a completely wrong story. For example, the economy is not doing so well but the media said everything is fantastic.
Information available today can damage the society. For example is pornography. Previous society have no access to free pornographic materials like today, so there were much less sexual related crimes, which also include those against children.
Sex, Violence & Popularity
Tun Dr. Mahathir shared with the audience, when he first started the Multimedia Super Corridor, members of the International Advisory Panel (IAP) warned him against any form of censorship over the internet. He said, it is inline with the principle of ‘the right to know’.
He said reminded that ‘Sex and Violence’ sells and makes money. Those are the themes of so many of Western media which include film, tv and even video games. He said the consumers tolerated the exploitation against women and many actually love it, especially semi or nude shots. Therefore the demand grew.
He said there should be a balance between the desire to make money and contribute something to the process of national development. Its is important that media continue to be economically viable but he reminded that what is popular, does not mean it is good, positive and progressive for the society and process of national development.
“Rarely a newspaper succeeded in being popular and sells (but at the same time), do the right thing for national development”, said the former Prime Minister. For example, if they wrongly interpret certain angles about certain issues, it will create racial disharmony and create discomfort in the society. People always do not act rationally in some sensationalized reportings. Common sense is not actually common. “Sometime, people can be irrational”, he reminded.
On blogging, Tun Dr. Mahathir said the bloggers need to tell the truth. “The new media” will compliment the movement of information as there will be ‘spin doctors’ will ensure print media skewed some angle of certain news, especially that will affect an particular individual or collective individuals.
The intellectual discourse that followed afterwards on the topic “Media and National Development” include the thoughts of Dato’ A Kadir Jasin, former Chief Editor NST and now Malaysian Business editor and blogger, Steven Gan, founder of online newspaper ‘Malaysiakini’, an IT business startegist and renowned ‘Screenshots’ blogger, Jeff Ooi and Dr Kamalan Jeevan from International Medical University.
On the topic of moderation, Dato’ Kadir said practiced no restrains in his blog provided they adhere to simple universally accepted virtues like no profanities and incorrect facts.
At the media conference soon after, Tun Dr. Mahathir explained that he is still not shy to state that the Jews ruled the world by proxy and is in direct control of the western media. This is a fact and he will make no attempt to correct his earlier statements. The example he used was how the President was not supposed to declare a war unless Congress approved it.
On the issue about his earlier accusations that the Prime Minister own a house in Perth, he admitted it was the spur of the moment during the heat of the speech that he said that, based on rumours speculating around.
However, he thanked Raja Petra for correcting him and apologized openly about making the mistake that Khairy Jamaluddin himself made few weeks ago explained that his brother in law, Kamaluddin Abdullah is the one actually owns the property, where else two weeks ago Malaysia Today exposed that the house is registered under Patrick Lim’s wife’s name.
When asked about Proton merger with VW, then and now, Tun Dr. Mahathir explained that when VW went into merger mode with Proton a while ago, Proton was in a better position to bargain because their financial position was very strong and even had a lot of cash. Now the terms are different. His advice was “remove the management!”. He could cynically mean the management of another administration, in line with his speech in Johor Bahru on 10 February.
In this media conference, in response to the question about registering Bloggers, he reminded Bloggers that they should tell the truth and have a role to play to ensure that information is disseminated well to the public. “Stick to the truth. Do not embelish or make something up”, he uttered.
Tun Dr. Mahathir also said that the Sepang F1 racetrack is the greatest free annual advertisement for Malaysia which is worth at least RM one billion. It is sad for him to see Malaysia lost their annual Formula One series in the years to come, something successful since 1999.
On the issue of the Johor Menteri Besar announcing that they are interested to remove the Free Access Zone feature of Iskandar Development Region (IDR) but it was a Federal Government’s call, Tun Dr. Mahathir said the Government could explained the whole thing much earlier and quashed with all the uneasiness caused to the people, especially sensitivities against Singaporeans and other nationals through Singapore, freely enter into Johor, seamlessly without any inspection what so ever.