KUALA LUMPUR – Journalists should not be used as “tools” of political propaganda, DAP’s Lim Kit Siang said today after getting into a heated argument with a TV3 reporter during a press conference.
Following criticism from press freedom group Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm) over Lim’s verbal altercation with the journalist from the state-owned broadcaster, the DAP parliamentary leader, while acknowledging Geramm’s concerns, said that the Opposition should not take any provocation by state-owned media “lying down”.
“I agree with Geramm, that ‘the media is not the enemy’. But in this age of information, he who controls the media, holds power; and in this case, the traditional media is entirely controlled by the administration of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak,” he said in a statement.
“As such, it does not do for the opposition to take the attacks and provocation by the Najib-controlled media, lying down,” he added.
The altercation happened after the journalist reportedly asked Lim if his stance on the Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) and Forex scandal would be different if former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was not Lim’s current ally.
Lim said that Geramm’s statement on the altercation has opened up an “avenue” to discuss integrity in journalists, and also of journalists not being used as an apparatus or tool for “political propaganda”.
“Journalism is a sacred duty to uphold truth, not a tool of the regime to perpetuate lies and falsehoods, nor a political implement to dumb down Malaysians in order to stay in power,” he added.
Lim also cited an article written by retired veteran journalist R. Nadeswaran, who wrote in to Geramm after the altercation about his experience in the field.
In his article, Nadeswaran reminded journalists to stand up to their bosses if questions that they are told to ask are “redundant”.
He also urged journalists to not simply “follow orders” (menurut perintah).
“The last line of Nadeswaran’s article is most important, that a journalist is not a government servant and does not foolishly and blindly follow orders,” Lim said.
“Let Malaysia be able to bring about change, with the Fourth Estate free of political pressure and influence. Only then can we ensure that Malaysia can ever be great again,” he added.
– Malay Mail