Of all of the Umno/BN’s dirty deeds, one of the grubbiest has been its transformation of Malaysia’s media into nothing but propaganda machines producing muck to misinform the mugs that the regime takes the common people for.
And nothing has better illustrated this dire and disgraceful state of affairs than the systematic demonising of the call by Bersih for clean and fair elections.
Malaysia’s so-called ‘news’ media have been engaging in an orgy of lies and slurs against members and supporters of Bersih, and outrageous acts of misreporting on the peaceful public rally that the organisation tried to hold on July 9.
But apparently not satisfied with this craven if not criminal perversion of the press, the masters of the mainstream media are attempting to co-opt them even further by creating a so-called Media Consultative Council.
I love the syllable “con” in its name as if in unconscious recognition of the fact that it’s as flagrant a fraud as everything else Umno/BN commits.
But I actually prefer to think of it as the Media Insultative Council, as its membership, from Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim and Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to Blog House, whose patrons include the famously mendacious Dr Mahathir Mohamad and turncoat ‘journalist’ Ahiruddin Atan, are an affront to the very idea of media freedom.
The Council’s purported agenda consists of the usual grab-bag of weasel words and phrases that Umno/BN habitually employs to conceal its murky, malevolent intent.
Its purpose, or so it reportedly claims, is to create a “forum” for “harmonious” cooperation between the government and the media to ensure “national interests are protected and upheld” and to “instil patriotism”.
It sees its functions as including “detecting, handling and overcoming all negative elements with the aim of defending the sanctity of the state and constitution,” and aims “to guarantee media freedom in accordance to (sic) the law.”
What a monstrous load of mealy-mouthed muck. The law referred to here is the poisonous Printing, Presses and Publications Act, which, far from “defending the sanctity of the state and constitution” is a statute specifically enacted by Umno/BN to deny Malaysians their constitutional right to freedom of the press.
In other words, this entire exercise is just one more repetition of what Hitler’s Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels called “the big lie” on which a fascist regime depends for its existence:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State”.
We’re all well aware of the fate that eventually befell Goebbels, his “big lie” and the entire Nazi reich. And Umno/BN and all its works are headed for oblivion too, along with all those editors and ‘journalists’ who betray their calling, their country and their fellow Malaysians by concertedly offending against their professional ethics:
National Union of Journalists Malaysia
The Star Branch
Code of Ethics
1. Respect for truth and for the right of the public to truth is the first duty of the journalist.
2. In pursuance of this duty he will defend the twin principles: freedom in the honest collection and publication of news; and the right of fair comment and criticism.
3. The journalist reports only in accordance with the facts of which he knows the origin. He will not suppress essential information or falsify documents.
4. He will use only fair methods to obtain news, photographs and documents.
5. Any published information which is found to be harmfully inaccurate he will do his utmost to rectify.
6. He will observe professional secrecy regarding the source of information obtained in confidence.
7. He will regard as grave professional offences the following:
. Calumny, slander, libel and unfounded accusations.
. The acceptance of a bribe in any form in consideration of either publication or suppression.
8. He recognises in professional matters, the jurisdiction of his colleagues only; he excludes very kind of interference by government.
As this code clearly indicates, government interference in the dissemination of news, and journalists’ collusion with them in this, is entirely contrary to the very purpose of the media, which is to keep citizens and thus voters informed.
I’ve repeated this over and over in previous columns for Malaysiakini, on the grounds that the only recourse we have in the face of Umno/BN’s “big lie” is the “big truth” that this regime and its agents and accessories in the media are the mortal enemies of all that’s clean and honest.
And, in protest against the regime’s continued efforts to misuse the media to cover-up its crimes, I make no apologies for once again quoting some of history’s most indomitable advocates of the media’s duties:
“Always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice and corruption, always fight demagogues of all parties, always oppose the privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news; always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty.” – Joseph Pulitzer.
“The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood.” – Thomas Jefferson.
“The free press is the mother of all our liberties and of our progress under liberty.” – Adlai Stevenson.
“Journalists must seek and speak the truth, for we are the voice of the voiceless millions.” – Razia Bhatti.
Silencing the voice of the “voiceless millions” is what criminal regimes like Umno/BN are all about. And, having rendered the voiceless millions dumb, they then add insult to injury by branding them, as Najib Razak and his minions constantly do, the “silent majority”.
Which is why, in the face of the regime’s efforts to keep treating us like mugs and feeding us even more of their muck by means of this mockery of a Media Consultative Council, all of us who have a voice owe it to ourselves and our fellows to speak up.
Or, in other words, to heed the late, great Bertrand Russell’s ringing call to “be isolated, be ignored, be attacked, be in doubt, be frightened, but do not be silenced.”