http://dapmalaysia.org Forward Feedback
First day of 2007 starts with “black-eye” for Abdullah on his pledge when he became Prime Minister that he wants “to hear the truth”, however unpleasant, from the people
(Petaling Jaya, Monday) : Will 2007 be a good year for nation-building, accountability, good governance, democracy and human rights for Malaysians?
The first day of the new year, which coincides with the 50th Merdeka Anniversary, is an ominous start.
The first day of 2007 started off with a black-eye for Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on his pledge when he became Prime Minister three years ago that he wants “to hear the truth”, however unpleasant, from the people as well as for nation-building, good governance, democracy and human rights.
This is the black-out on New Year’s Day by all the national media, whether newspapers or television stations, of yesterday’s protest by hundreds of Malaysians at the Grand Saga Cheras 11th Mile Toll Plaza against the latest toll hikes as well as at the barricade which blocked the access road from the Bandar Makhota Cheras township for the past 15 months since October 2005.
In Parliament on Dec. 13, when MPs were winding up the 43-day parliamentary budget meeting, Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, accompanied by the Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, the Information Minister, Datuk Zainuddin Maidin and the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Effendi Norwawi, was having a hush-hush meeting with editors of all newspapers and television stations to direct them not to play up the Cabinet’s increase in toll hikes for five highways, Cheras-Kajang Highway, Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP), Kesas Highway, Kuala Lumpur-Karak Highway and Guthrie Corridor Expressway.
The Abdullah premiership has prided itself practising a more open and liberal media policy than the Mahathir administration. This is true when compared with the last phase of the 22-year Mahathir premiership when there was very tight media control and censorship to the extent that Mahathir was repeatedly cited internatiuonally as one of the world’s top “enemies of the press”.
However, the claim that the Abdullah premiership has a more open and liberal media policy cannot stand up to scrutiny when compared with the first three years of the Mahathir premiership from 1981-1984.
With the Abdullah administration starting even earlier than the Mahathir premiership to muzzle the media, accountability, good governance, democracy and human rights may face even greater threats than the previous era unless such excesses are checked immediately.
Can Abdullah justify the government directive to muzzle the media to black-out all reporting about public protests against another round of unfair toll hikes, which are uniting Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, class or political affiliation against a most unfair privatization policy, completely without accountability, transparency and integrity?
Hasn’t he broken his pledge when he became Prime Minister that he wants “to hear the truth, however unpleasant” from the people, by shutting out the cries for justice and fair play by Malaysians of all races and religions against the toll hikes?
As the Minister for Internal Security with direct responsibility over the media, the first thing Abdullah should do on his return from his overseas leave is to keep his pledge “to hear the truth”, however unpleasant from the people, withdraw Najib’s directive to muzzle the media to “black-out” news about public protests against toll hikes and to reaffirm his commitment to be more open and liberal to respect media freedom- not when compared to the final years of the Mahathir premiership but the early years as well.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman