It's not just me with a bone to pick.
I have ranted about the mainstream media in Malaysia being mouthpieces of the Barisan Nasional government before, of course.
And I certainly agreed with Haris Ibrahim that the newspapers should be boycotted. Finally, the initiative has been launched.
The press conference to launch ‘Paper Free Tuesday’ and to announce the several civil society initiatives related to the ‘Boycott the Newspapers’ initiative was held at the Blog House.
The Star, The Sun, The Oriental Daily, Malaysiakini, S-Keadilan, Artis Pro Aktif and Centre for Independent Journalism sent representatives to cover the press conference. Other bloggers also showed up for support.
Here's part of the press statement which I would like to highlight:
False reporting by MSM:
In truth, this is not a recent phenomenon but has been going on for some time. However, a reference to recent events of public importance and the less-than-honest coverage of the same by the MSM would be sufficient.
- On 9 Oct 2007, Malaysiakini reported that the Ipoh Timur parliamentary constituency had seen an increase of 8,463 in the number of registered voters within the space of three months. Of particular concern were the new 3,208 postal voters even though there are no new army camps or new police stations in the constituency. MSM did not carry any report on this.
- On 10 Nov 2007, a civil society-driven rally in Kuala Lumpur was attended by some 60,000 people of diverse backgrounds, calling for electoral reforms. Bersih supporters peaceably marched to the palace of the Yang DiPertuan Agong to deliver a people’s memorandum on the electoral reforms sought. Yet a report in The Star of the following day gave the impression that this rally comprised no more than 4,000 people and was effectively dispersed by the authorities.
- On 20 Nov 2007, senior political correspondent Lydia Lim of the Singapore Straits Times reported on the 10 ongoing International Court of Justice hearings between Malaysia and Singapore to decide on the dispute between the two nations for sovereignty over the Pedra Branca. Lim’s report said that the Malaysian legal team had resorted to the use of a photograph of dubious authenticity lifted from an anonymous blog to create a photographic illusion and exaggerate the proximity of Pedra Branca to Johor. This scandal was reported in numerous blogs. However none of the MSM published this piece of disturbing news.
- On 25 Nov 2007, some 30,000 Malaysians joined the Hindraf march headed for the British High Commission. In the early hours of that same day, several thousand Malaysians were forcefully contained in the compound of the Batu Caves. The Star reported on Nov 26 that the IGP had said no teargas or water cannons had been used at the Batu Caves. Nonetheless, many blogs and alternative news sources on the Internet published photographic evidence to the contrary. To date, The Star has not shown any inclination to pursue this matter with a view to giving its readers the truth. In fact, in the days following, there appeared to be a concerted and contrived effort through the MSM to unabashedly vilify this public rally as an attempt by Indians to stir up racial unrest.
- On 19 Dec 2007, Malaysiakini reported a statement issued by Anwar Ibrahim in which the ex-deputy premier implicated former transport minister Dr Ling Liong Sik and his successor Chan Kong Choy in the RM4.8 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project irregularity. None of the MSM carried this news item. Interestingly, MSM have also not seen it fit to undertake an investigation into this scandal.
- On 21 Jan 2008, most, if not all of the MSM reported a crowd of some 21,000 at the MIC-sponsored ‘Meet the PM’ rally at the Badminton Stadium in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur the previous day. Yet our own committee member who attended the event reported that the number of attendees ranged between 6,000 and 8,000 at best.
We're paying good, hard-earned money to receive honest news reporting. We expect to have some degree of professionalism. This, we're certainly NOT getting.
Apart from boycotting the papers, there's something else you can also do. There is a petition can be accessed and signed online at http://www.petitiononline.com/hartal/petition.html
Go and do your part as a responsible Malaysian.