Dark clouds over Malaysia’s press freedom

GERALT/PIXABAY

Aliran is alarmed by recent incidents that have dire consequences for press freedom and freedom of expression in the country.

One case involves the imminent removal of New Straits Times (NST) group editor Ahmad Lokman Mansor from his position owing to alleged interference from Umno big guns.

Lokman will reportedly be replaced by Farrah Naz Karim, an executive producer of Media Prima Television Networks’ current affairs programmes.

We are dismayed to learn that Lokman, who had made positive changes to the media group in recent years, was removed because he apparently did not adhere to the wishes of the group’s owner, Umno.

Lokman was given the option to either return to the Umno-controlled English daily’s business desk, where he had served previously, or to leave the company

It appears that professionalism has been edged out by political expediency. This is abominable to the integrity of the journalistic profession and the media industry.

Brazen political propaganda has no place in a media outfit meant to serve the larger interests of society, which should be governed by journalistic ethics.

Some quarters have alleged that the change at the top of the organisation is in preparation for the coming general election, when party-affiliated media are expected to sway the hearts and minds of voters for political gain.

Another case concerns criminal defamation charges brought against former Edge editor-in-chief Ahmad Azam Mohd Aris and contributing editor M Shanmugam.

As pointed out by The Edge Media Group publisher and group CEO Ho Kay Tat, it is shocking that the authorities have intervened in what should be a civil dispute.

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The Edge, which focuses on the stock market and corporate sector, has a duty to report matters important to the investing public.

We urge the Ismail Sabri Yaakob administration to keep to its promise to not interfere with press freedom.

It would be a real shame if the opening up of the Malaysian media in recent years is cancelled out by actions such as these. The government’s deafening silence in the face of such regressive developments is truly disappointing.

Aliran executive committee
14 September 2022



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