Wong Chun Wai’s opinion on better democracy of press

This is an interesting perspective. Dato’ Wong Chung Wai’s statement, as published by Rocky’s Bru (www.rockybru.blogspot.com), titled Out with outdated press laws:

Top mainstream media editor wants more. Veteran journalist Wong Chun Wai has called on the government to do away with “archaic” laws that are stifling Press freedom in Malaysia. The Star’s editor is unhappy with Malaysia‘s poor rankings in a Freedom House survey on nearly 200 countries (Malaysia is ranked 150th). He also noted that bloggers are becoming more credible as a source of news.

“Many have raised pertinent issues and asked good questions, which make us think harder. Many former journalists-turned-bloggers have proven that they still have the network of contacts to help them break news.”

But a seasoned editor knows how and when to cover his behind:

“Still, it cannot be denied that under the Abdullah Administration, the Prime Minister has allowed greater democratic space and tolerance for dissent. It is thus unfortunate that some bloggers have made heroes of political players who had suppressed the media when they were in power. Many of these figures lack the credibility to talk about press freedom and when they do so, they smack of hypocrisy. Some are turning to the new media and have complained about media blackout when they, too, had used the same tactics to shut out their opponents. Many bloggers, unfortunately, are much too young to realise this or they have chosen to look the other way for political expediency. Some bloggers write about press freedom and yet display blatant intolerance of others who don’t share their political views. “

I disagree with Wong on one point, at least. I was there, too, and I will deny that under the Abdullah Administration, the Prime Minister has allowed greater democratic space and tolerance for dissent. And I wonder who Wong is referring to when he writes about “political players who had suppressed the media when they were in power”? Dr Mahathir Mohamad?”

Also read Wong’s Do Away With Archaic Laws.

Earlier today, I spoke to a The Star journalist, on the subject matter, ‘Press democracy under Pak Lah Vs Dr. Mahathir’. His coy answer is, “When Dr. Mahathir was the Prime Minister, we are able to ask him anything and everything. He would answer each question. Even the ones that are prickly and tricky, he’d make faces and expression but you know you’ll get an answer.”

“Now, you have to be careful when you ask Pak Lah. There are incidence that Pak Lah even said “Bodoh, tak dengar apa saya cakap tadi dalam ucapan!”. Actually, from another journalist, I heard this once the Prime Minister threw his tantrum at the media conference for Malaysian press during his state visit to Venezuela last December.

Another journalist from Wong’s paper gave a story “Nowadays, we get calls from Kali or ‘Level 4 boys’. They tell us what angle to write our story. Even what picture we should use. Another example is when Pak Lah addressed the Parliament the first time as Prime Minister, we were asked to highlight the point where Pak Lah gulped when mentioning Allah s.w.t. name; to show that Pak Lah is a God fearing man”.

One journalist in Wong’s own company who was covering Putrajaya was said she was asked to be transfered and replaced because she purportedly asked the Prime Minister in a media conference about the rumour within the bloggosphere he got married sometime early this year.

There is other former journalist who had this to say “During Dr. Mahathir’s time, the Press were controlled to make the Government and country look good. Nowadays, the Press is controlled to make Pak Lah look good. That’s the difference!”.

There you have it, four different interpretations and accounts on the same subject. So, is the Press more democratic now?

Published in: on May 9, 2007 at 03:38  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I hope what you mentioned is not true. If it is, then we have regressed when it comes to freedom of the press.

  2. La ila haillah, muhammadar rasulullah..

    this is the biggest truth so far. maybe the coming typhoon will reveal all that had been swept under the carpet.

    Brace yourself. Tough times ahead.

    ps- any chance for you to jot something about malaysiakini’s interview with Dr Mahathir?

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