KUALA LUMPUR — February 18, 2019: The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) wants politicians to let journalists do their job and stop dictating what is newsworthy.
CIJ’s stern reminder came amid a complaint by a press secretary of a minister, who demanded the government to reprimand Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) for failing to air his boss’ speech.
“RTM should be beholden to the public interest, not to political pressure. We urge Transport Minister Anthony Loke, and his press secretary, to refrain from making official complaints that their speeches were not covered, and let journalists, not politicians decide what is newsworthy.
“CIJ urges all government ministers to respect the independence of the national broadcaster, including decisions on whether, or not, to broadcast the speeches of ministers,” read the statement of the non-governmental organisation, which advocates press freedom today.
Loke’s press secretary, Lim Swee Kuan, had on Facebook last night, cried foul when RTM did not air the minister’s speech at a Chinese New Year open house function in Seremban, which was also attended by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“What is this if this is not sabotage? Heads must roll over the highly possible sabotage against the government administration. I demand an explanation from state-owned RTM,” read Lim’s acrid remark.
Lim had referred the matter to Multimedia and Communications Minister Gobind Singh Deo, who in his reply earlier today said he will ask RTM officials to write a report on the issue.
“Once I have the report, I will do what’s necessary. I will need to look at the terms of coverage, and what were the SOPs (standard operation procedures) before I can comment further on this,” said Gobind.
Following Pakatan Harapan’s victory at last year’s May 9 general election, Gobind claimed that he was committed in nurturing a new media climate in which media reporting is done without fear or favour so as to enhance the country’s freedom of the press.