In conjunction with World Press Freedom Day, Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) calls for the protection of the Malaysian press to perform their duties without fear or favour. Efforts must be made to protect the press at all times in the course of performing their duties to document and provide information to society. Without information, there is no accountability.
Journalists play a crucial role as guardians of public interest. They articulate the aspirations of the people, and provide the critical element of checks and balances in a vibrant and open democracy.
A free and independent media is vital in exposing malpractices and abuses by those in authority, and an important tool in fighting corruption. TI-M is encouraged by Parliament’s passing last month of the Parliamentary Select Committee’s (PSC) Report on Electoral Reform, which recommends that all campaigning parties contesting in elections should get fair and free access to the media. This recommendation was among TI-M’s 22 recommendations made to the Prime Minister and PSC last year as part of our memorandum on Reform of Political Financing in Malaysia.
TI-M calls for this recommendation to be implemented immediately, and for the media to practice fair, impartial and equal coverage for all political parties, especially for the upcoming General Election.
Finally, TI-M repeats our call to the government for the repeal or the drastic curbing of the Official Secrets Act, the introduction of a Freedom of Information Act and to prohibit ownership of media by political parties. These steps will promote transparency and allow the Malaysian press to deliver on the people’s expectations of the Fourth Estate.