Journalism, sacred to democracy

The Center for Independent Journalism has just launched a much needed campaign to protect journalists on our land. The "Hands-off Journalists @ Work" badges that every journalists worth his or her salt should proudly wear tells a sad and painful story of the marginalization of journalism and the daylight raping of press freedom in Malaysia.

As clearly pointed out by Ms V. Gayathry the Executive Director of the Centre for Independent Journalism, it is shocking to witness how the law has failed to not only protect independent journalism but dealt a brutal blow to the press's duty to inform.

Inflicting any form of coercion and worse, bodily harm on journalists at work or even bribing is a crime against democracy. As indicated at the campaign launch, Malaysians – be it government, corporations or any individual, who restrains the many efforts to report truthfully in the interest of ethical behavior is guilty of murdering humanity.

The fact that journalists have been beaten and some even left in a coma is totally unacceptable. And the fact that prosecution according to the Rule of Law is not seeing urgency is a clear affirmation that media justice is near-dead in this land that proclaims to be a moderate state.

The violation of the fundamental rights of media freedom must stop immediately if we are to earn the respect and honor of the developed world. How else can we be admitted into the foray of the developed global community of progressive people if we have those in power vigilantly resorting to gangsterism and patronization to muffle the media?

How can we earn the respect of honorable humanity on earth if we continue to coerce and threaten in muffled tones thereby preventing the lone journalist to live up to this vocation of reporting the truth within the confines of ethical principles and moral behavior?

Ask any main stream media journalist and they will readily whisper that between reporting the truth and keeping their job, the latter is the preferred option. Seemingly, idealism and principles these days do not guarantee keeping a well paying job in Malaysia. 

Putting food on the table and keeping the family takes precedence over upholding the fundamental rights of journalism. That, in essence is the sad but harsh truth is so far as a free press goes in Malaysia.

The system reeks of injustice, fear and intimidation. And all in the name of power and control. All in the name of protecting vested and personal interest.

Today we see in Malaysia the obligations of the media as contained in the Hutchins Commission of 1947 completely castrated owing to political interference and a derailed libertarian economics at work.

And who will be responsible for this sordid state of affairs if not the politicians who proclaim incessantly that they are the guardians of the rakyat? And would the law enforcers too not take the blame either?

The often heard song that the media cannot have a field day because we have to be sensitive of the racial and religious sitz-im-laben in the country is increasingly suspect of withholding the truth to cover up tracks of those with vested interests.

Fortunately for democracy, the man in the street has far more religious and racial tolerance than the politicians proclaiming otherwise.

Likewise too, corporations and individuals who resort to lining the pockets of journalists on the beat with 'red packets' are equally guilty of robbing this nation of the fundamental right to know and the imperative duty to inform.

A nation that has compromised the age-old and sacred duty to tell and the right to know is an enemy of democracy and a detriment to the advancement of humanity.

As such, the campaign by the Centre for Independent Journalism must be given an impetus to right what has gone wrong for far too long on this sacred land. 



– J. D. Lovrenciear, Semenyih