Archive for July, 2010

Another one bites the dust?

DAP’s organ, The Rocket, is the latest party publication that is seeing a seemingly uncertain future after its publishing permit expires. Its counterparts, Harakah (PAS) and Suara Keadilan (PKR), had already received show-cause letters from the powerful Home Ministry for ‘violating their permits’.

Such an action by the Ministry fuels suspicion that the government is cracking down on these publications because they are critical of it. It is another form of harsh censorship.

See this report for context.

The Committee of The Truth

The Star reports today that the Malaysian government will be setting up a panel that sounds like a Committee of The Truth. The Committee, comprising of personalities like Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz, was set up to purportedly stop the spread of ‘false news’ particularly by the media.

This move has serious implications to justice and democracy. For one thing, when once a ‘truth’ is established by the government, the implication is that it cannot be challenged by aggrieved or concerned parties.

Equally disturbing is that this initiative is made in the larger social context where certain critical quarters have been contesting the version of ‘truth’ promoted by a government that appears to have a credibility deficit. In this regard, genuine desire of certain parties to offer constructive criticisms of the government may be frowned upon by the latter as challenging the ‘truth’ offered by the government.

Here’s the portion of The Star report on the matter:

PUTRAJAYA: The Government has decided to set up a committee to stop the dissemination of false news, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

He said if lies were allowed to be disseminated, those doing it would think what they did was right.

“All this while, the Government did not take any stern action.

“However, if this is allowed to carry on, the people would continue to be cheated,” he told reporters after chairing the ministry’s post-Cabinet meeting here.

He said that besides himself, other committee members were Infor­mation, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz.

“At the committee’s first meeting three days ago, we decided to set up a high-level task force comprising senior officers from enforcement agencies under the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

“The Committee also discussed several related issues including the definition for fallacious news,” he said, adding that the media would be provided with a com­prehensive set of guidelines to ensure they didn’t run afoul of the law.

He said a draft of the guidelines, which would have clearer rules and regulations for all media, had been handed over to the A-G’s Chambers two days ago.