What is the truth?
KDN answer: Whatever we say it is
• Evangelical Christians say KDN confiscated 3,000 copies of the Malay-language Bible
• Evangelicals say govt had agreed to release the Bibles
• KDN warns newspapers for publishing “false news”
KDN says Bibles were not confiscated, merely “not released”
• KDN says govt did not agree to release the Bibles
• Newspapers publish KDN statement as a “correction”
• Conclusion: “the truth” is anything the KDN says. If not, editors and publishers go to jail (publishing “false news” is a criminal offence under the Printing Presses & Publications Act)
The home ministry has reprimanded newspapers that carried statements by the Evangelical Christian Fellowship that KDN had “confiscated” a shipment of Malay-language Bibles, causing editors to shrink into self-censorship mode.
Self-censorship is abhorrent to those professional journalists who wish to live up to their professional principles and report the truth as they see it.
But self-censorship is the mode preferred by KDN and ruling party officials, as it forces editors and reporters to “play safe” by not reporting events in full, and sticking only to the official line as given by bureaucrats and ruling party politicians.
In the past, warning letters have been issued by KDN, reminding editors and publishers that the ministry expects them to practise self-censorship.
In other words, “self-censorship” is official policy, imposed on editors and not something most professional editors wish upon themselves.
But the fact also remains that, over the years, self-censorship has been internalised by many editors and reporters who see their role as that of supporting the prevailing official view. These editors and reporters see that long-term career prospects and success up the corporate ladder comes from toeing the line.
Editors have been jailed before, as “communists” and as “subversive elements” and as “anti-national elements”. Most of the time, those labels only meant that those editors were the victims of political power plays at the very top.
Repeated threats are now made about “reporting false news” — when KDN or ruling party politicians say that, what they really mean is that you did not report what we want to see.
It shows yet again why government and political control of the press must end, and media control laws abolished. Reform is long overdue — because bureaucrats and politicians continue to use the law as a tool of intimidation, as a form of bullying.
You made me look bad — so now I’m going to shut you up. That’s what KDN is saying.
This is plainly evident from the MalaysiaKini report yesterday about the KDN reprimands:
- “The Truth” lies is whatever the KDN says. It is “the only truth”
- If someone says something not in line with the KDN view, the media is held liable for reporting “false news”
- “The truth” about what the KDN does can only be found in what the KDN says it does
- If what others say about KDN does not follow the KDN version, the media are reporting “false news”
KDN has now threatened editors and publishers with criminal action because what the Evangelical Christian Fellowship said about KDN — it was not what the newspapers said about KDN — did not jibe with what the KDN wanted the public to see and hear.
If the Evangelical Fellowship was factually wrong, it is up to KDN to state the facts and let the public judge. If the newspapers factually reported what the Evangelical Fellowship actually said, the newspapers did no wrong.
It is KDN which is wrong. Because, it plainly appears, KDN officials are using the law to bully editors. Because KDN did not like the word “confiscated” but prefers to say “not released”. Because KDN did not like the fact that the Evangelical Fellowship believed the prime minister’s word that the Bibles would be released, and took the prime minister’s words to mean government approval.
In other words, KDN also wants you to know that the prime minister is not the authority. They, the KDN, are in charge. Or so they say. And you editors better go along or go to jail.
True or not? Or is this also false news?
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