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Sell off media companies, parties urged

Mon 2010-Oct-4 @ MYT 23:15:06 pm
Media professionals ought to be protected, not punished, for exposing lies, falsehood, injustices and corruption
Daniel Chai, Council of Churches Malaysia

Umno and MCA have been urged to relinquish their ownership of the main English-language and Bahasa Malaysia newspapers and to free the press of political control as a step towards true democratic reform.

Daniel Chai, secretary of the Youth section of the Council of Churches Malaysia, which groups Protestant churches, lauded the MCA for selling off the party’s remaining shares in Media Chinese International, owners of Sin Chew, Nanyang, China Press and Guong Ming dailies.

However, the party should also sell off its holdings in Star Publications, publishers of The Star, Sunday Star, Galaxie and other magazines, and radio stations.

Umno should similarly sell off its ownership of Utusan Malaysia group and Media Prima group who, between them, control Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian, New Straits Times, Harian Metro and Kosmo dailies and their Sunday equivalents, a range of magazines, as well as all the main commercial TV stations and several radio stations.

Chai hailed the election of Hata Wahari as the new president of NUJ, “reaffirming NUJ to be a non-partisan and independent organisation, upholding ethics and rejecting partisan reporting.

“This was especially critical after our nation has witnessed a spate of resignation by media professionals over the recent months, due to allegations of intimidation, harassment and even arrest,” Chai said.

He urged the government to drop all charges against cartoonist Zunar and return all the confiscated copies of his latest book Cartoon-o-phobia.

“Media professionals ought to be protected, not punished, for exposing lies, falsehood, injustices and corruption. By silencing the voice of the media, our government will effectively silence the voice of the people who boldly point out things needing correction for the betterment of our nation,” he said.

Malaysia’s plans to revitalise foreign investment would face a formidable obstacle without media reforms to build a healthy informed public, hold politicians, civil servants and corporations accountable, and to punish hate-based opinions.

Otherwise foreign investors were likely to shy away, he said.

» Daniel Chai’s statement in full

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