MEDIA STATEMENT (22 MAY 2018): Free and fair media coverage is a must for a more democratic Malaysia

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0) asserts the need for free and fair media coverage of all sides of the political divide as the nation collectively embraces a new dawn and a new Malaysia.

Following the fall of the Barisan Nasional (BN) government after holding power for 61 years since independence in 1957, media and broadcasting organisations are now able to cover events organised by the current government and former opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan (PH), which the mainstream media had shunned before.

However, it is important that the media should start a new chapter by giving equal media coverage to all political parties and abandon the old habits of providing one-sided stories in favour of the ruling parties as under the Barisan Nasional era.

Taxpayer-funded state media such as radio and television stations of RTM should no longer serve the government of the day but the taxpayers and provide equal media coverage to all sides for taxpayers to make informed decisions. 

The Pakatan Harapan government’s 27th promise in their manifesto to abolish draconian laws include the Sedition Act 1948 and the Printing Presses and Publication Act 1984 as well as the removal of draconian clauses in the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998. In addition to these laws, Pakatan Harapan leaders have also repeated announced that they will abolish the recently enacted Anti-Fake News Act 2018. We call for these legislations to be repealed or reviewed immediately in line with human rights and press freedom in the first session of the parliament. We further urge the Pakatan Harapan government to accord press freedom with constitutional protection.

BERSIH 2.0 has consistently demanded free and fair media coverage which also constitutes access to the media since the Bersih 2 rally in 2011, and has been a persistent demand in our list of election reforms.

BERSIH 2.0 reminds the media that it plays a uniquely important role in ensuring that the government is accountable to the voters and citizens of the country as well as carrying feedback and information from the grassroots to the top leaders of the nation.

Free and fair media coverage may be one step forward for the media but it is a giant step forward for democracy.

Issued by:
BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee