A Response to Ng Wei Aik on Media Freedom in Penang
7 Jun 2012, 10:50 AM
I refer to the article published on the Malaysia Chronicle on 5 June 2012 entitled ‘BAD NEWS! Chang Yeow is even more scaredy-cat than Tsu Koon – DAP’ written by Ng Wei Aik.
The piece by Ng Wei Aik in response to criticisms levelled against the Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng by the Barisan Nasional Chairman of Penang, Teng Chang Yeow over the former’s intolerance for media outlets that are critical of his administration is yet another mischievous attempt by the State Government and the governing coalition in Penang to deflect criticisms and scrutiny of their actions by demonising Barisan Nasional and its component parties.
Lim Guan Eng’s move to bar certain media outlets that have been critical of his administration is a retrograde move that threatens the freedom of expression in Penang. The State Government’s cavalier attitude towards media freedom which seeks to exclude those who are critical of them and only include those who publish favourable reports is most unbecoming of a state government that professes to be competent, accountable and transparent.
The Chief Minister and his administration should in fact respond to criticisms with truth and reason, and not resort to undemocratic methods such as banning media outlets from state government events. It is ironic because as the Federal Government proceeds with its political transformation programme which includes granting of greater freedom to the media, the State Government of Penang is moving in a diametrically opposite direction by seeking to muzzle the press.
For a party that claims to be a champion media freedom, the Democratic Action Party has shown itself to be intolerant of any criticism to the extent it has justified the banning of Utusan Malaysia and New Straits Times as a purported act of self-defence. I find it hard to fathom this justification. The Federal Government and other Barisan Nasional controlled State Governments have never resorted to banning any media outlets from covering them as such measures are ineffective and counter-productive despite many media outlets, especially the electronic media, being exceptionally critical at times.
The former Chief Minister of Penang, Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon in his 18 years as Chief Minister never banned any media outlet from covering his administration despite adverse and critical reports because he has always believed and continues to believe in the importance of a free press.
Ng Wei Aik has once again tried to deflect the issue at hand by claiming and I quote: “DAP regrets that Teng Chang Yeow continues to adopt Gerakan President Koh Tsu Koon’s discredited approach of bowing down to UMNO and its party organs Utusan Malaysia and the News Straits Times.” The stale narrative of UMNO’s alleged hegemony seems to be the only defence that DAP’s has against its critics which reflects on their abject failure to defend their actions and record over the past 4 years. By seeking to shift blame on the previous administration and the Federal Government, it’s clear evidence of their indefensible record, hence all they can do is play the blame game. I am certain Penangites are tired and quite frankly nauseated by such depraved actions. I believe they deserve better from the State Government of Penang.
Ng Wei Aik ends his rather contrived and nonsensical piece with the following words: “If Teng Chang Yeow says that the Chief Minister has no right to sue other newspapers for lies against the CM, does that mean that he will also ask UMNO leaders to stop filing defamation suits? His refusal to do so only shows his true character of not only fearing UMNO but also UMNO-owned newspapers, which is much worse than Koh Tsu Koon who only fears UMNO.” I am sure only Ng Wei Aik knows what he means by this because by linking a critique of Lim Guan Eng’s shoddy respect for media freedom to “fearing UMNO” goes to show the warped logic employed by Ng Wei Aik and the DAP to defend the undemocratic actions of the State Government of Penang and I find this a real pity. The Pakatan Rakyat gained control of Penang in 2008 on the pretext of more open and engaging government but in fact Penangites have to contend with an administration that fears its own shadow.
by Ivanpal S. Grewal
Special Officer to Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon
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