RTM’s woeful coverage of opposition views


Would it be too much to ask of Information Minister Rais Yatim and RTM to be fairer in dealing with news and views from the opposition, asks Mustafa K Anuar.

Rais Yatim - Photo credit: arkib.gov.my
Rais Yatim - Photo credit: arkib.gov.my

Information Communication and Culture Minister Rais Yatim reportedly made a ‘promise’ recently that starting from the Galas by-election until the elections after this, RTM would cover and broadcast the opposition’s campaign and activities.

Upon (finally) realising that the opposition had good views on matters of public importance, Rais said the broadcasting station had decided to give them airtime.

Good news? Well, not necessarily so.

The thing is, he said that RTM would carry stuff from the opposition “if the news item is important and useful for the people to know”.

So this means that the RTM folks and possibly the minister himself as well would be the final arbiters who would decide what constitutes an “important news item” that is “useful” for the people to know.

We are fully aware by now that what is considered ‘politically important’ by the opposition may not necessarily be perceived as such by the federal government and the ruling coalition. Otherwise, RTM and other private TV stations would have filled to the brim with news and views pertaining to the opposition all this while.

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Not only that, mainstream television news would have included stories and views critical of the ruling party, the federal government as well as the opposition.

Which brings us to the Rais’ next diktat: “No conveying of one’s political ideology”. Pray tell, how on earth would a political party campaign without having to make statements that do not reflect its political ideology?

Surely, political ideologies help to differentiate one party from the next and subsequently help voters to decide which one would come close to their political leanings and conscience.

Would it be too much to ask of the minister and RTM to be fairer in dealing with news and views from the opposition?

Mustafa K Anuar is assistant secretary of Aliran

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