The recent court verdict implicating Malaysiakini (including an earlier case) as guilty as charged, stymies Malaysia’s already much clipped independent journalism.
When the Reynolds public interest defence and reportage defence, relied upon by many media organisations around the world, can no longer protect news reporting here in Malaysia, we must be mindful of the price that comes with such impediments on the media.
In this globally connected and speed-networked society, news accessibility is at our fingertips and immune to border controls.
We may cripple the independence of journalism within the country but we cannot block world news reports.
So while local media may be hampered, belittled or even threatened, while they may be cautious about the consequences, their fear of reporting, even under the cover of the Reynolds or reportage principles of defence, may now grow more prevalent in Malaysia.
But what we must never forget is that while we may impede professional journalism locally, we will suffer more under the radar of the international media.
While ultimate court rulings must be accepted, we cannot dismiss how journalism has survived all kinds of oppression and suppression since the 19th Century.
Many nations are discovering that in today’s world of Emmanuel Castel’s “network society”, no government and no legal canopy can ever withstand the power of the press.