Muzzling the Media? Myopic!

The Home Ministry tried to ram a new set of comprehensive guidelines masked as ‘self-regulation’ down the constricted throat of an already restricted newspaper industry in a myopic move to muzzle the media. This move to stifle the freedom of the press, can be perceived as a furtive attempt to force the media’s hand to accept the provisions as ‘joint principles’. In that way, it could then quietly absolve itself of any accusations of enforcing strict censorship over the already ailing MSM.

By Masterwordsmith

The meeting held a few days ago was not attended by any representatives from the Malaysian Press Institute and the National Union of Journalists – key players in the media industry! Why? They probably just wanted to host the meeting, shoot the guidelines, expect the reps to accept them, close the meeting, wash their hands and then walk away. Pathetic!

No notice was given that such guidelines were to be discussed! By noon, the meeting broke down because of the heated debate. Originally, it was supposed to have been a full day discussion.

Such a move is inconsistent with the Home Minister’s recent statement in The Malaysian Insider that, “The local journalists adhered to ethics but these bloggers did not, and this was what set apart journalists from these bloggers.”

Are we to assume that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing in the Home Ministry?

This move is evidence that the regime is deeply entrenched in archaic methods of tight control which will not work in a borderless world. Such a bid is a move to close down the media industry and rob itself of any last vestige of support from the rakyat, especially when favored media are exempt from such rules.

Before they start preaching their gospel of ‘self-regulation’, the Home Ministry must deal with Utusan Malaysia’s questionable articles. They have to get out of their physical and mental inertia to tighten the noose around Utusan Malaysia before embarking on another ridiculous mission like this one.

Let’s have a look at the balderdash that I have summarised from THIS LINK.

According to Malaysiakini, the draft covers two main categories – undesirable material and banned material. It elaborates on these over 13 pages and apply to written and graphic material such as articles, photos, documents, comics, magazines and advertisements.

1. The provisions were panned for their ambiguity, particularly on the topic of maintaining public order and materials that are against national interests.

2. Materials that “encourage actions which can cause disorder (pecah keamanan)” or are against “the public interest” are considered “undesirable”.

3. The draft defines “undesirable” materials as including “news, articles or information that is exaggerated” and which can “confuse the public”.

4. The controversial cow-head protest was raised as a case in point, with the ministry claiming that publishing photos of the protest was “detrimental to public interest” and akin to inciting racial tensions. However, media participants disputed this, vigorously arguing that the incident and its visuals had merited publication.

5. Materials that are banned outright, include written material that is prejudiced about any race or religion, content that touches on religious and cultural sensitivities, and seditious material.

6. Bizarrely, it also states that “detailed reports” on criminal offences such as rape, murders and robberies are banned on the ground that the coverage “usually does not reflect the actual incident”. (Does this indirectly mean a blackout on famous cases such as Teoh Beng Hock, Kugan and Altantuya?)

7.Matters that typically require common sense in publication, such as those relating to religion and decency, are explained in far greater detail than before, complained participants.

* For example, articles may not discuss “open lifestyles” beyond religious and societal norms. This means a ban on topics of cohabitation, adultery, homosexuality and counter-culture movements (black metal, punk and skinheads were three examples given).

* Dolls, figurines, illustrations and sex aids which portray human genitals may not be published, along with pictures of anyone in suggestive poses, or who is semi-nude or wears skimpy clothing.

* The document also deems models in G-strings as too ‘hot’ for publication, along with advertisements for escort services and guest relations officers.


Let’s be rational. If such guidelines were implemented, trumpets can play “Taps” to sound the demise of the news industry.

As it stands, the prestige and popularity of MSM is at an all-time low. We know there is hardly any meaningful news or in-depth coverage or analysis of the political, economic and social ills that is plaguing the country now. In fact, the MSM DID NOT EVEN COVER THIS STORY (as far as I know).

Even now, isn’t it ridiculous that the government wants to take away whatever little bit of freedom or dignity that is left in the print media?