The press must play creative and important role in building of New Malaysia to be a “beacon of light to a difficult and disturbed world”
Re-visiting Tamil Malar with the DAP National Vice Chairman and the Minister for Human Resources, M. Kulasegaran, DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Batu Gajah V. Sivakumar and the Pahang DAP State Assemblywoman for Sabai, Kamache Doray Rajoo is like a home-coming for me.
Last September, I visited Tamil Malar to show support and solidarity to the Tamil Malar Chairman Oms Thiagarajam and legal advisor K. Sarawathy, two of the three victims of gangsterism, thuggism and assault instigated by powerful “political” personalities who were against Tamil Malar practising independent and professional journalism.
The Tamil Malar executive editor S. M. Periasamy explained to us the assault and the thuggish incident against Tamil Malar.
I also saw the 10-minute long video CCTV footage showing the brawl and assault against Sarawathy, Oms P Thiagarajam and another Tamil Malar staff at Tamil Malar, which tallied with the Sarawathy’s account of the assault.
Since then, Tamil Malar had been at the receving end of powerful “political” personalities as Tamil Malar refused to be cowed from continuing its independent and professional journalism.
In fact, Tamil Malar journalists were warned that immediately after the 14th General Election, the newspaper licence of Tamil Malar would be withdrawn on May 10, 2018.
Despite these threats, Tamil Malar journalists soldiered on unfazed and they should be an example to all Malaysian journalists who were often threatened or browbeaten to sacrifice their journalistic ethics and principles by powerful “politicians” in pre-14GE.
May 9, 2018 was a special day of liberation to the Tamil Malar journalists, for the “bullies” who had threatened to the newspaper licence of Tamil Malar have been removed from power and could not carry out their threats.
But May 9 is not only a day of liberation for the Tamil Malar journalists, it was also most special and significant day of freedom, hope, joy and pride for Malaysians, both inside the country and the worldwide Malaysian Diaspora – for on that day, Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, profession, vocation felt proud as Malaysians for they have become the “beacon of light to a disturbed and difficult world” showing at least three things:
Firstly, despite all the prognosis that the corrupt and decadent UMNO/BN regime would win the 14GE, Malaysian voters regardless of race, religion or region, were more intelligent and mature than the government or mainstream analysts and pollsters, creating a shocker by effecting a peaceful and democratic transition of power at the federal level.
Secondly, the renewal of democratic hope is particularly pertinent at a time when the world is seeing a decline of democracy and the rise of authoritarian and undemocratic regimes.
Thirdly, the May 9 results show the continued relevance of People’s Power to reject Malaysia as a global kleptocracy and kakistocracuy and to transform a global kleptocracy into a leading nation of integrity in the world.
We are now embarked on the building of New Malaysia, where the press has an important and creative role to play in continued democratisation of the Malaysian society.
I fully endorse the undertaking by Tamil Malar Chairman Oms Thiagarajam just now that Tamil Malar will continue to speak up against wrongs and injustices, even if they emanate from the Pakatan Harapan government.
I believe the greatest responsibility of the Pakatan Haranpan government is not to perpetuate itself in power regardless of cost or principles, but to build a democratic culture and environment. In this democratic culture and environment, check-and-balance mechanisms, whether in government, the Opposition, the civil society or the media are important institutions.
Historian Lord Acton said “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely”. We are not saints and liable to make mistakes and even commit wrongs.
When the Pakatan Harapan Government makes mistakes or commit wrongs, there should be a free and responsible press to point them out, and all journalists are assured of my full support if they do so responsibly and professionally.