Half a step backwards in press control

The prime minister’s promise to do away with annual press licences is not the big deal that it’s being made out to be. It’s not a step forward — in fact it’s a step backwards, to the mid-1980s.

At that time press licences, once issued, could be renewed annually without making a fresh application every year.

Then came Operation Lallang, when the Mahathir Mohamad government was fighting for its life (and plenty of money) in an Umno civil war. The Star, Watan and Sin Chew were shut down. Changes were made to the press laws.

No more renewals, back to making new applications every year. The minister has the final say whether to approve. The minister has the final say about any conditions to be imposed. The minister decides. If you don’t like it you can lump it, because the minister’s decision cannot be challenged. No, you can’t go to the courts. That’s the law. The law says judges cannot decide. Ironic? That’s the Mahathir Mohamad style.

What else did the Mahathir government do? Introduce new and broader definitions of what is news — any information, almost. Redefine what is a “newspaper” — even something written down on a sheet of toilet paper if sold on the street could be considered a newspaper. Weird? That’s the Mahathir Mohamad style.

And what is Najib Tun Razak’s style? Make a loud hullaballoo about a teensy-weensy concession, doing away with annual licences and allowing renewals. That’s not reform, that’s just an administrative change to make life a little easier for paper-pushers in the bureaucracy and newspaper managements.

If nothing else is change and everything else from Mahathir’s government remains, then Najib’s big announcement about moving forward with the times (and remember, the Times is losing circulation by the day) is just a whitewash.

Real reform can only come when press laws are removed and political parties are banned from owning and controlling newspapers and radio and TV stations.

That takes real political courage. Does the Najib government have the balls to do so?

(Don’t hold your breath waiting.)


4 thoughts on “Half a step backwards in press control

  1. There is no reason to rejoice, nothing the deceitful and corrupted Umnoputras are going forward, they only know how to go backwards.
    Like everything the present regime are doing are just a reflection of what they are, Najib’s promised that ALL top students will be given scholarships, what he conveniently did not say was that non Malay top students would be only enrolled into the rural varsities that are not even of high school standard. That is why the NEP students are not sent there !
    When the NEP Malay students are sent abroad, as usual for their holidays.
    Also when he promised Bersih2 that they can hold their rally in the stadium and at the end he not only ban the rally made it illegal and not allowed to be held anywhere in Kuala Lumpur.
    And he even have those attending, after overcoming the many intimidations from the police arrested.These are only some typical examples of his empty ‘promises’ !
    Just wait and see, no doubt he will do away with ISA which has become useless and will surely replace it with something else and with something that is even worse.
    Another good example is the annual press licenses will not require to be renewed he is promising but his cousin the Home Minister is quick to add that it is only a privilege and NOT a right. At he end the final decision is his, in other words, and since when is the deceitful Home Minister is known to be that magnanimous so at the end of the day there is really no change at all.
    Also what he did not say is that he doesn’t want ISA around when the deceitful and corrupted Umnoputras are kicked out of Putrajaya in the next GE. So that who ever takes over Putrajaya will not have the right to let them have a taste of the medicine and lock them up in Taiping without having to go to court !
    As I always claimed, that most of all the shambles that are facing Malaysia daily were introduced and started by the grand son of the untouchable pariah from Kerala, the shenanigan Maharthir.
    He made a big song and dance about his ‘retirement’ on stage in his crocodile tears and in front of all his cronies during the annual conference. But did he ‘retire’ ? You be the judge of that.
    He chose AAB to succeed him as P.M. after so many decades as colleague and must have got to know AAB well enough, just like all the his choices of his sacked deputies. With AAB he thought he got a puppet that will dance to his every tune he plays. Plus with AAB he will be able to continue committing the atrocities as a private citizen without the care or concern of being indicted by the International Court of Justice.
    When AAB revealed that the shenanigan had stolen all the country’s finances and left him with no more funds to continue with their constructions. As a result AAB decided to cancel most of the mega white elephants the shenanigan started.
    Sure enough as a consequence the shenanigan became furious enough to reveal that the shenanigan had not ‘retired’. Far from retirement he is still in fact very active in politics to prevent anyone to expose the ways he used to steal the wealth from the country.

    Plus the disappointment that AAB did not appoint his second son in AAB’s cabinet. And above the fear that AAB will, in the course of time, reveal how he had stolen as a P.M. the shenanigan could not allow that to happen. As a result he began to build pressure for AAB to retire as a P.M. to avoid his stealing being exposed.
    It was a huge mistake of the shenanigan to have picked AAB to succeed him just like all the mistakes he made in his life to pick the many deputies he either sacked or replaced, the policies he implemented. It shows he was and still is incapable of making a wise and sound decision. He must be indicted for the many atrocities he committed during his 22 years tenure as P.M. of Malaysia. In short he is nothing but a thief !

  2. Stop day dreaming the deceitful and corrupted Umnoputras are not going to repeal the ISA and the other oppressive legislations. You are just asking these deceitful and corrupted Umnoputras to give up the only weapon they have to remain in power.
    Najib is once again trying to play around with his empty promises and have all the Malaysians fooled !
    Not any more, just look at his empty and broken promises since he became the P.M., his empty promise that ALL top students, regardless of their races will be given the scholarships, but at the end did he fulfill his promise ? He also promised the Bersih2 organizers that he would give them permission to have their planned rally to be held at the stadium.
    But the next thing he did was he then turned around and had the proposed rally banned and even make it illegal for anyone to attend the rally to ask for a clean and fair election. He even had anyone wearing anything that is yellow in color or even having a yellow shirt in his possession arrested. So much for his kind of promises !
    To make matter worse he had the police out to intimidate and arrest the people who wanted to attend the proposed rally not to mention the numerous impediments the police put up just to discourage all those who wanted to attend the rally. Giving all the visitors the impression that Kuala lumpur is under siege !
    And in desperation, typical of the quarter cooked police, in the process of their attempts to prevent the people who just wanted to attend the rally they even bombed a hospital. As usual they then came out to deny they ever did that. How low can you go the men in blue ?And also in their ‘endeavors’ to prevent the people from attending the peaceful rally to ask for a clean and fair election the quarter cooked police used gas bombs and shot chemical laced water cannon at the people.
    The above are only examples of the empty promises Najib is good at and my dear Malaysians don’t be fooled again by these deceitful and corrupted Umnoputras and just make sure you come out to vote them out of ivory towers in Putrajaya once and for all times.

  3. The existing power structure has always counted on keeping the masses dumbed down via the mass media. True, individuals working within the industry may attempt to push the envelope whenever possible, but in the end they get enveloped by the systemic distortion of truth. Even an ostensibly independent news network like Al-Jazeera instinctively conforms with the consensus reality of the industry as a whole and gradually becomes indistinguishable from all the rest. Thus far, the only uncensorable medium appears to be the internet – and although it gets confusing when one hears so many voices in the wilderness, ultimately it’s reassuring that even a voice in the wilderness has a chance to be heard, thanks to digital tech and the egalitarianism it facilitates.

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