Home Media statements Charter 2000-Aliran Coverage of lawyers’ march: Whispering to the press

Coverage of lawyers’ march: Whispering to the press

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Charter 2000-Aliran is deeply concerned with the Internal Security Ministry’s alleged interference — as reported in Malaysiakini — in the mainstream press’ coverage of the Bar Council’s ‘March for Justice’ in Putrajaya yesterday.

It suggests a calculated attempt by the government to ‘manage’ the news about the march by whispering to the press. Worse, such ‘news fixing’ indicates a conscious effort to downplay the issue of ‘judicial fixing’ that has now become of public concern and interest.

It raises nagging questions: Doesn’t the crisis in the judiciary issue warrant transparent investigation? Don’t members of the public deserve to be informed of such alleged political maneuvering, which has far-reaching implications for the integrity and credibility of the judiciary and for public confidence in the institution?

Or are the mainstream newspapers trying to encourage the public to think that there isn’t a crisis in the judiciary and that all this brouhaha is the nasty work of the opposition – as de facto law minister Nazri Aziz would have us believe? He may have his head in the clouds but ordinary people on the street can see what is happening. 

Shouldn’t the mainstream press – in a country that is supposed to practise democracy – be allowed to exercise its own independent judgement and shoulder its social responsibility in deciding how to report the alleged ‘judicial fixing’ story and how much prominence to give it? Surely the issue deserves as much prominence as possible.

If the story is intentionally downplayed, ordinary citizens would be excused if they think that the government is promoting ‘cue journalism’ (the mainstream media taking their cue from government sources) especially when its credibility is perceived to have been seriously eroded.

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Ordinary people would be also forgiven if they think that the government is acting to protect its own vested interests and the interests of the PM rather than the interests of the country and the people. Correct, correct, correct?

Dr Mustafa K Anuar & Anil Netto

Coordinators, Charter 2000-Aliran

27 September 2007

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