Aliran Monthly 31: 4 editor’s note

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Our cover story looks at the state of the media in the light of Utusan Malaysia’s appalling unverified front page story stoking fears of a ‘Christian state’. Four media watchdog groups have expressed serious concern. 

Mustafa K Anuar then recalls how the same daily ushered in World Press Freedom Day in early May by booting out the president of the National Union of Journalists. Under such trying circumstances, it might be more appropriate to holler, “May Day! May Day!”

Of late there has been talk of setting up a media council. Zaharom Nain asserts that a council with teeth is needed to hold the media accountable to the rakyat. The repressive legal environment and increasing concentration of media ownership have to be tackled as well.  In the meantime, ordinary people must reclaim the media and help them to restore their dignity, says the Centre for Independent Journalism. Civil society too has a role to play in widening the space for discourse, This can be done by organising ‘fun’ events that appeal to the broader public such as the recent walk against sexual crimes in Penang, write Manual Holler and Florian Ladage.

Our back cover story puts the focus on Sarawak. Andrew Aeria reveals that Sarawak PKR, despite picking up just three seats, actually did quite well under the circumstances. Our other Sarawak correspondent looks at the state of poverty in Sarawak and discovers that wiping out poverty should not cost all that much. Meanwhile Lim Swee Bin interviews Mark Bujang to find out the real extent of deforestation in Sarawak. In this context, an historic and ground-breaking law in Bolivia that bestows Nature with rights should be of great interest.

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