DAP condemns the government action against Al Jazeera’s, Astro and Unifi TV for airing a documentary on migrants during the Covid-19 lockdown. Police and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia is investigating Al Jazeera under Section 500 of the Penal Code and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.
Such action against a famous global news network, has cast a chilling effect on not just on the fundamental principle of freedom of the press and information, but also on the professionalism of the media fraternity. In order to avoid any future criminal action, many media practitioners will be compelled to exercise some form of self-censorship.
This is already evident not only in the mainstream English and Bahasa Malaysia media but also in the Chinese news media. Before the change of government, the leading Chinese mainstream media would give more coverage to opposition parties than the PH government. However, when PN government took over, the reverse is true. Further some of their senior journalists have taken an active role in supported PN policies.
The oppressive government action indicates that PN is not bothered about principles of freedom of the press and information, but is more concerned about stifling alternative views to impose uniformity and enforce an authoritarian climate that brooks no criticism, no matter how valid or justifiable the complaint.
The PN government did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comments but has chosen to punish them, widely seen as an abuse of power. The Multimedia and Communications Minister is indeed a changed man when he openly backed such repressive government action instead of freedom of the press and information.
Public interest requires that the government back down and stop such action immediately if PN remains committed to uphold democracy, public accountability and transparency.
LIM GUAN ENG
Secretary General, DAP