Malaysian Press Still Not Free Enough Says Academic


Academic Jeniri Amir says politicians are capable of controlling the media. (Bernama pic)KUCHING: An academic has questioned the government’s commitment to press freedom, saying it has failed to limit political ownership of media organisations to the extent that it promised
Speaking to FMT, Jeniri Amir of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak alleged that Pakatan Harapan was maintaining government control over official media
He also said he believed most of the mainstream media outlets were owned by politicians or individuals linked to them
Even if they were not owned by politicians or political parties, he said, there was no guarantee of media freedom because politicians would still be able to hire proxies to run them
“Politicians are capable of controlling the media, and this could affect the news content and the people’s decisions during elections,” he said
“It is also impossible to prevent politicians from having shares in media organisations because the media is business. There is no law preventing a person from owning shares in a media organisation.”He also questioned the freedom of editors to act professionally, saying they would have to follow the dictates of investors
He urged Putrajaya to emulate Indonesia by appointing an independent media regulator “to help put things right”
“The government must not be involved in the establishment of a media council but should allow the experts to handle it,” he added
He also called for wider news coverage of Sarawak and Sabah, saying this would serve national integration
“RTM (Radio Televisyen Malaysia) should broadcast more news on Sabah and Sarawak so that the people in the peninsula will know what is going on in the two states,” he said
Jeniri nevertheless acknowledged that Malaysia recently moved up 22 places to 123rd position among 180 countries in Reporters Sans Frontieres’ World Press Freedom Index. - FMT

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