Tun Dr. Mahathir: There is no such thing as complete press freedom

Fourth Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said that there is no such thing as complete press freedom anywhere in the world and organised mainstream media had always been subjected in some form of ‘control’. He was addressing the opening ceremony of ‘Asian Bloggers and Social Media Conference 2010’ in Kuala Lumpur this morning, where bloggers and new media practitioners which include social media academic expert congregated .

“Media would be subjected to many people (stakeholders). The media owners, editors, advertisers and not only the Government”, explaining that the media panders to a lot of ‘pressure and control’, hence inability to be completely free and impartial in their reporting and telling a story.

“I became a blogger because I was blocked out from mainstream media. I still needed to say something. Many people told me that it was something I did when I was the Prime Minister. You know I was the Prime Minister for a long time. But if I did, I must have done it to protect the interests of the people. I did not do it because I had bad intentions”.

He related the ‘bad intentions’ as the case in point to the episode when British Prime Minister Tony Blair lied about the Iraqis having weapon of mass destruction and threats they have in the region. “He lied (even to the British Parliament) because he really wanted to go to war in Iraq. British Intelligence (MI 6) actually advised the British Government that there is no such threat. But that is not reported anywhere. Now only we hear about it, after hundreds of thousands of people died and injured. Millions suffered because Blair lied and he used media for that purpose, to justify the lie”.

“These lies are never reported here. In fact people here revered him so much that they paid him RM 1 million, to teach them to lie”, for the recently held Young Achievers Convention where Blair was invited to speak.

He commented about Anwar “Mat King Leather” becoming the darling of foreign press because they wanted a ‘Regime Change’.  “They wrote about beautiful things about him. The foreign press control the perception about him. Now with new media (such as blogs),  we now know how they (Westerners) actually feel about him. We noe have an access how opinions are being formed despite the mainstream media being ‘controlled’. The local media now is able to understand the other peoples’ perception”.

“Our problem is how to sort out the information and news that is coming to us. What is true, what is not true, what is valuable and what it worthless. This requires certain skills. The bloggers will do a great service to the community if they can really do this”, he reminded practitioners of the new media.

“We now have a new powerful medium almost without control by the authorities. I say there is some controls because new media is still libel for their writings. They must tell the truth. They should not make up stories”, as he was talking about the need to have ‘ethics’ while blogging and expressing a view or opinion in the new media.

The father of modern Malaysia also reminded to the threat of pornography to the Malaysian society. “There is in an increase of sexual related crimes in Malaysia due to easy access to pornography”.

“When we first had internet in Malaysia, we promised that there will be no censorship. Now I am having second thoughts about that. I think there should be censorship on pornography. Otherwise, we should not censor internet. We should allow anyone say anything they like”, relating to the Barry Wain’s “The Malaysian Maverick” book where so many allegations, yet to be substianted about his Premiership. “Wain said I lost hundreds of billions (Ringgit). I am not fond of suing. Suing takes time. I may not have the time”. He was confident that the readers will be able to evaluate for themselves on what was written. Time will tell whether Tun Dr. Mahathir did or did not do on what Wain wrote.

Relating his experience from his successful blog ChetDet, “My blog is read everywhere, even in Israel. They are not happy with me. They do nasty things, we say so. This is an opportunity to say our opinion or feelings, just that it does not mean we can say anything which is not substantiated. If we can do that (express opinion that could be substantiated), then bloggers will become more popular. There is an opportunity to shape everyone’s thinking. We should use this opportunity to make things better for everyone. We should not abuse this powerful new tool”.

Relating of his Perdana Global Peace Organisation work and using the new media to spread the message “I am now doing a campaign of making war a crime. In the ‘Good old days’, soldiers kill soldiers. Today, soldiers kill everyone (which include non combatants). That’s the truth about today’s war. We must stop this! We can use this very powerful new media to campaign and spread the message. We can reach so many people immediately and help them form the opinion”.

“When we are given a ‘weapon’ that powerful, it must be used responsibly. Again I must emphasize, it must be used properly and it can contribute towards building a better community and better world for ourselves. We have the ability to shape the opinion of the whole world, if we want to”.

Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 11:02  Leave a Comment