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Charles Santiago

Posted by : Admin Direktori Blog | Ahad, 16 Januari 2011 | Published in

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Charles Santiago


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Posted: 16 Jan 2011 08:43 PM PST

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Utusan’s Persecution against Hata Wahari’s & Right to Free Speech has to Stop.

Posted: 16 Jan 2011 06:05 PM PST

Utusan’s Persecution against Hata Wahari’s & Right to Free Speech has to Stop.

Just about every appeal that could be made to stop the persecution against Utusan Malaysia’s senior journalist and President of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), Hata Wahari, has been made.

But today Hata would face a domestic inquiry for alleging political interference in the news contents of the broadsheet daily.

Following the inquiry Hata might be suspended or fired for doing his work.

I would like to take this opportunity to pledge my support for his struggle.

The dark reality of the dismissive approach taken by Utusan Malaysia is frightening. It sends a clear signal that the top management of the newspaper cares two hoots about press freedom in the country and is certainly anti-union.

Furthermore the arrogance displayed by Utusan Malaysia caricatures the sad state of the fourth estate.

I do not have to elaborate much about the state of the press in Malaysia.

Statistics speak for itself. Malaysia ranked 131 in the Press Freedom Index 2009, by Reporters Without Borders.

Let’s look further at other implications.

A free press essentially signals a transparent and an accountable government, free and fair elections, an independent judiciary, the rule of law and protection of minority rights.

It is fundamental to individual rights.

Freedom of the press also ensures the effective communication of news to the public without censorship.

Without a free press, Malaysians would not be able to effectively articulate their views or call for durable political and social reforms.

Hata has accused Utusan Malaysia of pandering to the whims and fancy of the ruling UMNO and slammed the paper’s editorial policy for a sink in circulation.

The fact that the paper has not resorted to a public rebuttal shows that the playbook of keeping a lid on all forms of dissent lies with UMNO and the ruling coalition government.

This is indeed appalling and clearly a travesty on the freedom of expression and media in the country.

We have seen media organizations rapping the knuckles of their reporters to ensure they toe the editorial line.

In September 2010 Amran Ahmad, then President of the NUJ and a journalist with Utusan Melayu was terminated. He had reported to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over procurements made by Utusan Melayu Berhad, the company that publishes Utusan Malaysia.

In the same year, a senior producer with NTV7 resigned and a TV2 producer, Chou Z Lam also complained of political interference.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”.

Clearly we have a long way to go

Charles Santiago
Member of Parliament, Klang


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