Don’t scapegoat the Chinese press for the successful Bersih rally

by Teresa Kok

After having shot tear gas and water cannons to attack thousands of peaceful and unarmed Malaysians at the Bersih 2.0 rally in Kuala Lumpur on 9 July 2011, the Home Ministry has now turned its target upon the Chinese press in a desperate attempt to cover-up the Barisan Nasional Government’s blatant oppression, violence and abuse of power upon Bersih 2.0.

On July 13, top editors of Sin Chew Daily, Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press were summoned to the Home Ministry to “point out ‘uncomfortable’ reports” relating to the Bersih 2.0 rally. (Source: Chinese dailies hauled up ‘over pro-Bersih reports’ )

The Home Ministry’s action stinks of the suppression of freedom of the press for which the BN Government is infamous for. The Home Ministry restricts the Chinese press, like all print-based news providers, using the oppressive Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) which requires all publications to apply to the Home Ministry for a publishing license that is subject to renewal every year.

Thus, the PPPA is used to choke the editors and journalists’ ability to report without fear or favour, and forces them comply with the messaging that the BN government decides the rakyat should see, hear and read, to the exclusion of any dissenting points of view.

To illustrate, on 17 June 2011, the Prime Minister’s Office had the gall to issue a letter to media outlets instructing them to demonise Bersih as a “perhimpunan haram” (illegal assembly); to highlight stories of how businesses, tourists and ordinary people would be affected; question Bersih’s funding; target Anwar, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and “budak suruhan DSAI and tali barut DAP” (Anwar and DAP’s lackey) Mohamad Sabu; and use file photos of Ambiga with opposition leaders to highlight their close association.

All this is BN’s constant propaganda to incite fear among the people and secure power for themselves. (Source: Purported anti-Bersih script surfaces online sih-script-surfaces-online/ )

Don’t turn Chinese press into Utusan Malaysia

The fact is Chinese newspapers had published many column inches to discourage people from joining Bersih. Thus, the Home Ministry should not reprimand or punish the Chinese newspapers in any way. The Home Ministry must not attempt to convert the Chinese press into the unethical, seditious and fear-mongering UMNO-owned Utusan Malaysia that is now despised by many.

Furthermore, many who went for the rally are apolitical, not necessarily supporters of any political party, but they are righteous Malaysians, of all races, who were compelled to walk by Bersih 2.0’s noble goals to establish clean and fair elections in Malaysia, which will benefit all Malaysians. They obtain their news from a wide variety of sources, particularly the Internet and social networking sites.

I urge the Home Ministry to stop their dirty, bullying tactics upon the Chinese newspapers and quit making them the scapegoat for what is ultimately the BN Government’s own fault and failing.