Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Indonesia vs Malaysia: The media and democracy

Sila klik di sini untuk membaca artikel Indonesia vs Malaysia: The media and democracy yang tersiar di Asia Times pada 9 April 2004.

Berikut adalah antara kenyataan yang menarik untuk diperbahaskan oleh rakyat Malaysia di maple-maple dan di mana jua.

Wong Chun Wai, deputy chief group editor of Malaysia's largest pro-government English-language daily, The Star, bristled at this analysis. He said his paper ran the opposition's advertisements. "The Malaysian media [are] as democratic as [they] can be. There's no need to change [them]." He pointed out that the opposition Chinese-led Democratic Action Party actually gained seats in the March 21 election, and as for other opposition parties that scored poorly, this was because of their stated aims, not because of media coverage.


With the media's strong showing, "What incentives do [the government] have to open the doors?" asked Eric Paulsen, coordinator of the Voice of People of Malaysia.

One can think of plenty - to develop a knowledge-based economy; to check power and stamp out corruption; to spur public debate on important issues. But getting the government to sign on is a different matter. BN's performance last month was its best since 1955. Why tamper with success?


A number of analysts say mass public mobilization is perhaps the only thing that will pressure the Malaysian government to change. In Indonesia, public protest led to the dictator Suharto's resignation and consequently the repeal of media restrictions. And although the government has since occasionally threatened to curb those freedoms, myriad activists in Indonesia have made clear that the freedoms won't be lifted without a fight.

Sangat bersetuju, rakyat yang peka harus lebih berani bersuara dengan menyertai perhimpunan-perhimpunan dan demonstrasi-demonstrasi yang diadakan.

By contrast, Malaysians historically have shown little affinity for social activism. And times are good for many. The economy is stable; the standard of living here is higher than in Indonesia; Malaysia lacks the sense of desperation that can galvanize action. As well, the government has strict laws preventing public demonstration; the Internal Security Act, which reserves the right to jail offenders without trial, has scared away many would-be activists.

"Barring no meltdown, nothing will change," said Ibrahim Suffian of the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research


M G Pillai, writing on his independent website, sees it differently: "With this general election we have descended firmly into the Third World we had spent years to get out of."

But as long as the state-controlled media are calling the shots, Malaysians will continue to get a more flattering view of themselves. The morning after Indonesia's elections, Malaysia's state-controlled Star newspaper's front-page headline read: "Shortages and confusion over voting card hamper Indonesian elections". That news was hard to find outside Malaysia

Diharap Menteri Penerangan baru yang mana saya mengkagumi beliau sebelum ini diatas daya usahanya yang tidak mengenal erti penat dan lelah di dalam memajukan sektor pelancongan dan mempromosikan Malaysia dapat melihat kepada realiti media dua negara berjiran yang berbeza ini.

Sila buat perubahan selaras dengan kemajuan ekonomi negara walaupun jauh di sudut hati, saya langsung tidak yakin akan adanya perubahan di bawah beliau. Mengapa? Sudah tentu kerana Timbalannya adalah seorang manusia yang mengecewakan iaitu Zam di samping kenyataan beliau terhadap PAS baru-baru ini dan juga ketidaksetujuannya terhadap cadangan penyiaran secara langsung sidang parlimen di RTM atas alasan yang amat dangkal sekali.

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