Manage information, not control the press


Zan Azlee, The Malaysian Insider

Zan Azlee is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, writer, New Media practitioner and lecturer. He runs Fat Bidin Media

The Glomar response is a response favoured by many government officials when they are dealing with sensitive issues that they really don’t want to reveal to the press.

It is a phrase that goes, “We can neither confirm nor deny…” And this is something that our elected leaders in Malaysia need to learn how to use.

Our country’s elected leaders have been blowing their trumpet about how media freedom is at an all-time high – and then our press freedom ranking drops to 147 out of 180.

But it’s okay because they probably think that since they control the media, nobody in Malaysia will get a whiff of the ranking list by Reporters Without Borders.

And because of this control, they also probably didn’t think that Malaysians would ever find out about the suspension of the newsweekly The Heat two months ago.

They were probably also banking on the fact that no news report would leak out about how The Edge’s FZ daily had its licence revoked.

Most recently, an interview with opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, which was supposed to be aired on radio station BFM, was barred from being broadcasted.

That is exactly the characteristics and personality of a Big Brother that has for so long been complacent and comfortable with their strong grip on things.

For someone like me, working as a member of the press in this country, it can get pretty frustrating and annoying to see how things are.

It seems that our elected leaders can’t grasp the idea that it serves no purpose to control and censor the media when information is so readily available anywhere.

Not only does it serve no purpose, it is actually quite detrimental and only portray those in power as being arrogant and out of touch with reality.

In this day and age, intellectuality and rationality is what appeals to people. So the best way to actually engage with them is to have discourse.

If there are things in the media that are unfavourable to our elected leaders, they should come out with their own counter arguments and prove that they are baseless.