Journalism a sacred duty to uphold truth, not a mere tool of the regime to perpetuate lies and falsehoods, nor a political implement to dumb down Malaysians in order to stay in power

I would like to acknowledge the statement issued by Geramm (Gerakan Media Marah), a loose coalition of media practitioners and journalists, entitled ‘Media is not the enemy’ in defence of a fellow journalist who had an altercation with me during a press conference welcoming Datuk Zaid Ibrahim into the DAP on Monday.

The journalist who identified himself as coming from TV3, had asked if I would be speaking about the BMF and forex scandals differently if former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was not within the opposition ranks.

Mahathir, who was seated next to me at the presser was visibly amused at the question. The amusement increased as soon as the person said that he came from TV3, inviting jeers and laughter from the audience around him. Even other fellow journalists at the event did not voice out any protest against the so called altercation nor the jeering by the crowd later.

Perhaps because it is well understood that the DAP and the rest of the opposition has been the regular target of the traditional media owned and controlled by UMNO for as long as we can remember. TV3 in particular has become the main tool to paint the DAP as being anti-Malay and anti-Islam, demonizing our leaders with every other lies and falsehoods you can think of, without ever giving a right of reply.

I agree with Geramm, that ‘the media is not the enemy’. But in this age of information, he who controls the media, holds power; and in this case, the traditional media is entirely controlled by the administration of Prime Minister Najib Razak. As such, it does not do for the opposition to take the attacks and provocation by the Najib-controlled media, lying down.

The statement issued by Geramm has opened an avenue to discuss this question, of integrity in journalism and not being used as an apparatus and a tool of mere political propaganda. Journalism is a sacred duty to uphold truth, not a tool of the regime to perpetuate lies and falsehoods, nor a political implement to dumb down Malaysians in order to stay in power.

Geramm’s Facebook page had also shared an article written by R. Nadeswaran a.k.a. Citizen Nades, a respected journalist with 45 years of experience, with regards to the question at hand.

He writes, among others:

“If the news editor or editor asks you to ask a certain question, you can politely ask him or her: ‘Is there a specific reason why you want this question asked?’

“This is the type of danger reporters must avoid – making fools of themselves on the insistence of their bosses. If they are not happy doing it, don’t do it half-heartedly just to satisfy the bosses.

“Reporters must be able to stand up and tell their editors that such questions or statements are either redundant (in the case of LKS when he said he had never changed his stand); or stupid

“…each one of us has got pride and take pride in doing our jobs. At the end of the day, let us go home and sleep with a clear conscience that you did an honest day’s job.

“Finally, we journalists must get rid of the government mantra – saya yang menurut perintah.”

The last line of Nadeswaran’s article is most important, that a journalist is not a government servant and does not foolishly and blindly follow orders. Let Malaysia be able to bring about change, with the Fourth Estate free of political pressure and influence. Only then can we ensure that Malaysia can ever be great again.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah