Equitable access to media paramount to clean and fair elections

By Animah Ferrar, PKR Supreme Council Member

26 October 2007
In the run-up to the next General Election, BERSIH has focused on several key factors which are essential to ensure a clean, free and fair election.
Among these is equitable and unimpeded access to the mainstream media for all parties. In order for voters to have real freedom of choice, they need complete and balanced information.

The BN-led government, however, has a long-standing tradition of denying the opposition access to mainstream media. At the same time, they themselves use the media to the hilt to spread their own party propaganda, as well as vilify opposition parties and individual leaders, without giving any right of reply.
The situation became critical during Tun Dr Mahathir’s premiership, and sadly, under Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi’s leadership, there has been no change at all.
The media, whether public or private-owned, should serve all Malaysians. BERSIH calls on the government to ensure equal access to all parties before and during the coming election, including both the amount and the quality of time or space given. The media must be allowed to give balanced and objective coverage.
The government should also stop immediately its unwarranted harassment of Internet-based media.
To highlight its demands, BERSIH is organizing a People’s Gathering in Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur on 10 November 2007. BERSIH’s campaign for electoral reform is supported by 67 non-governmental organizations and political parties.
BERSIH’s four immediate demands are the use of indelible ink (which has been approved for use in the coming election), a thorough cleanup of the electoral roll, the abolition of domestic postal voting and equitable access to the media.
For more information, log on to bersih.org or contact the Secretariat at (03) 79806571 or [email protected].