Malaysian mainstream media further demonise marginalised voices

November 27, 2007

Hindraf rallyThe Malaysian mainstream media, long shackled by repressive laws and their political masters, recently outdid themselves in toeing the official line by painting a dangerously lopsided picture of two rallies in the Kuala Lumpur capital that happened within weeks of each other.

That thousands joined both rallies, in a nation that has been conditioned to shun street protests as violent, was an obvious cry for attention to their causes.

Bersih rallyBut you wouldn’t know what they really had to say, or what really happened at the rallies, if you were to solely read New Straits Times and The Star, as revealed in content analyses by Aliran, a human rights NGO based in the northern island of Penang. See: Hindraf rally: Mainstream media deny stark reality at their own peril, Mainstream media demonising Bersih demonstrator and Bersih rally: The demonisation continue.

(Pictures courtesy of Malaysiakini)


Freest press in Southeast Asia?

October 23, 2007

rsf.jpegRSF’s 2007 press freedom index (rankings for Southeast Asia):

Cambodia tops the list (ranked 85 in the world), followed by Timor-Leste (94), Indonesia (100), Malaysia (124), Philippines (128), Thailand (135), Singapore (141), Laos (161), Vietnam (162), Burma (164). Find out why.

Brunei is not ranked due to lack of data.

Malaysian High Court throws out blogger’s remand review

September 18, 2007

The Malaysian High Court ruled yesterday that blogger Nathaniel Tan’s remand review was “academic and that any judgement made would not make any difference”.

Tan, who is also an Opposition activist, said the revision of his remand was an attempt to set a precedent that will stop the police from “kidnapping clearly innocent citizens, and using monkey tricks to deny arrestees their right to confer with legal counsel”.

He was “picked up” on 13 July and later charged under the Official Secrets Act for an anonymous comment left on his blog (see SEAPA alerts of 18 and 16 July 2007). He was remanded for four days and released on 17 July.

Read his blog for more information.

Clueless Malaysian police behind arrest of blogger

August 8, 2007

Malaysian opposition activist Nathaniel Tan, who was arrested for a comment on his blog left by an anonymous visitor (see SEAPA alerts of 18 and 16 July 2007), shares a disconcerting revelation upon his release:

“The fact that I appear to be the best suspect they could arrest in relation to this case indicates that the police do not understand how the Internet works, and are at a complete loss as to how to handle true cyber crime .  .  . [and] portend[s] badly for Malaysia’s ability to deal with true cyber crime.”

Aside from displaying an appalling lack of adherence to proper police procedures, Tan noted, “[t]he government and police appear to be sending a signal that while irresponsible bloggers roam free, responsible bloggers who moderate their comments and put a name to their writing are more likely to end up as targets. This policy could not possibly be more ill formed and counterproductive”.

See Tan’s statement in full.

In Malaysia, an arts party for press freedom

May 15, 2007

poster2.jpegSEAPA partners in Malaysia, the Centre for Independent Journalism and web-based daily, celebrated World Press Freedom Day with indy music outfit Troubadours KL. Poetry recitals, indy music performances, art workshop for children, cartoon exhibition . . . it all happened at the arts hub Central Market in Kuala Lumpur, over the 5 May weekend. More pictures and stories here.  poetryreading.jpeg

Malaysia to set up unit to counter online ‘lies’

April 27, 2007

The unfettered online accusations of government corruption over the past weeks in the run-up to two hotly-contested by-elections in Malaysia have prompted the government to enter the cyber battlefield by setting up a unit to monitor and counter the “lies”.

Deputy Information Minister Chia Kwang Chye said the unit will not have enforcement power, but will use as ‘weapons’ the written word to “disseminate information, explain correct information, and counter the misinformation on government policies,” reports the New Straits Times.

Malaysian minister urges media to refrain from quoting blogs ‘of no authority’

March 23, 2007

Malaysia’s news agency Bernama reports Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin as urging the press not to use blogs as their sources of information as they may not be valid.

Zainuddin said some blogs are not updated and contain inaccurate information, which could discomfit and confuse surfers.

He claimed that many blogs are run by “individuals of no authority” and therefore depend on newspapers for credibility.

“Why should you, a journalist, cite that source and then publish it in a newspaper of authority?” he said in the 20 March 2007 report. Read the rest of this entry »