A veteran journalist has called on his peers in the media industry to “stick their necks out more” during these challenging and unprecedented times as press freedom in the country continues to slip in the global ranking.
National Press Club of Malaysia (NPC) president Datuk Ahirudin Attan also stressed that the media is not the enemy.
Ahirudin, who spoke to several media organisations today in conjunction with World Press Freedom Day, said he was not surprised with Malaysia slipping 18 spots in the latest Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranking.
The country is placed 119 out of 180 countries in the RSF list on press freedom.
“The RSF ranking is not news, at least not to people like me who have seen worse,” said Ahirudin on radio station BFM earlier this morning.
“I encourage journalists and editors to stick their necks out more. It’s not easy to do (but) we need more journalists to speak up … publish and be damned,” he added.
‘We have a job to do’
Ahirudin, who is also the executive advisor to the chairman and the executive director at PETRA News, said those in power were mostly “the ones who land us (the media) in trouble”.
“Politicians today are increasingly thin-skinned and even members of royalties are coming after journalists,” he said on Bernama TV this afternoon.
“Our good old friends at the Royal Malaysia Police are getting overly sensitive over what broadcasters do.”
Ahirudin was referring to an Astro Awani anchor who was being investigated over what he said on air with regards to two RM50,000 compounds issued in Kelantan recently.
“We do make mistakes. But my hope is for politicians, members of royalties and others to understand that we have a job to do. And we do it as responsibly as we can,” he added.
Walk the talk, Saifuddin
Ahirudin also hoped that Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah will have the political will to push for the setting up of the long-awaited Media Council. He added the Covid-19 pandemic should not be used as an excuse to delay the setting up of the council.
“The Media Council can do a lot of things. We have done a lot of work on it. It’s about having the political will to push the proposal through.
“We did not manage to get the Media Council going under the Barisan Nasional administration and under Pakatan Harapan, although (former Communications and Multimedia Minister) Gobind (Singh Deo) played a role in setting up a pro tem committee.
“Now, under Perikatan Nasional, we don’t seem to be moving at all. I hope Saifuddin walks the talk. I know him personally and he believes in media freedom. This is the last mile … we need the political will to make things happen.”
Ahirudin said two things could be done to immediately improve press freedom in Malaysia.
“Abolish the old draconian laws that bog down the press and end the state of emergency in the country.”
He added it was time for media organisations to unite and share resources. Media organisations not funded by politicians or political parties must be lean in their operations to survive the challenges caused by the pandemic.
“To those who have lost their jobs, don’t give up. The NPC does not get funding from the government, but we will help those who need help.
Ahirudin also said politicians should not view the media as the enemy.
“I also hope the politicians don’t treat us as the enemy. We are not the enemy. Let’s work together to make this country better.”
Covid-19 vaccine for journos: Ball is in KJ’s court
Ahirudin hoped media practitioners, being essential workers who are exposed to press conferences and public areas, will quickly get their Covid-19 vaccinations in the ongoing National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.
It was earlier reported that Saifuddin had appealed to Coordinating Minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin, and Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba, to give priority to media practitioners.
“Can Khairy finally come out and say when exactly will the media be vaccinated? It was said in May but when exactly? It will also be nice if he would come out and say that he appreciates what we do and sets aside some vaccines for us. There aren’t many of us out there.
“This will go a long way in recognising the fraternity. I think we deserve this little recognition and the ball is in Khairy’s court,” he added.
Here’s the round-up of The News Normal today.
ASTRAZENECA VACCINE NOW EXTENDED NATIONWIDE
Those residing outside Kuala Lumpur and Selangor can now opt for the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
Khairy said the government is expecting some 1.1 million more doses to arrive this month and that it is looking at expanding the AstraZeneca programme nationwide.
“We will continue to maintain it (AstraZeneca vaccine) as an opt-in voluntary programme under the national immunisation programme.”
All 268,800 vaccination slots for the AstraZeneca jabs were taken up in less than four hours after registration opened at noon yesterday.
Sarawak, however, said it would not use AstraZeneca. Several other nations had expressed concerns about the brand after extremely rare instances of blood clots were reported among recipients.
IT’S A HUGE BURDEN, SAYS NEW IGP ACRYL SANI
Datuk Seri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani, who started his day as the country’s 13th Inspector General of Police (IGP) this morning, admits a huge burden has been placed upon his shoulders.
“If I’m all alone, I won’t be able to shoulder such a responsibility. Whenever I’m given a new role, I ask myself if I can pull it off,” said Acryl.
“I have full confidence in the heads of departments and in the state and district police chiefs to continue working on assignments that have not been completed.”
Acryl Sani replaced Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador who served as IGP for two years. Abdul Hamid, had on Friday, lambasted politicians as he urged graft busters to investigate party hoppers.
He also said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin should not interfere in the management of the police force. Abdul Hamid said he would leave it up to Acryl Sani and his men to decide if they want to follow up on his claims.
WHY ISN’T MACC PROBING FROGS, ASKS GUAN ENG
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) must explain why it has not investigated claims of political corruption as politicians “jump here and there” rampantly.
“Why is MACC silent when the former IGP (had, in a press conference last Friday) said ‘I see corruption everywhere in politics. Probe the political frogs’,” said Lim, in a statement.
“If MACC fails to act even though the complaints of corruption originated from the (former) IGP himself, what hope is there for the ordinary public that MACC will act on their complaints of political corruption at the highest level?”
Lim said the failure to act only confirms assertions made by Pakatan Harapan that government agencies, including MACC, have been turned into political weapons against the opposition.
“MACC must come clean on the five cases of political corruption involving party hopping by MPs subjected to inducements or intimidation, where no action was taken by MACC,” he added.
‘SELANGOR MCO POSTER’ FAKE, SAYS NSC
The National Security Council (NSC) denied it had issued a poster and information stating the Movement Control Order (MCO) will be implemented in Selangor either tomorrow or Wednesday.
NSC said that the poster is fake as it had not issued any statements regarding any movement restrictions in the state. The Council advised the public to stop distributing such posters which could cause public anger.
EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE WOULD HAVE SOWED SEEDS OF FINANCIAL CARELESSNESS
The Covid-19 pandemic has conditioned people in football to rethink and modify their spending patterns.
The European Super League, on the other hand, would have had them overlook this.