Set up media council to ensure media freedom, says Suaram after RTM CNY debacle


PETALING JAYA: The setting-up of an independent media council is the best way to address issues regarding media freedom, says Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) executive director Sevan Doraisamy.

While commending Communication and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo for allowing Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) to "tell their side of the story," the rights group cautioned that such action should only be used as a short-term solution.

"In the long term, an independent media council is the best platform to address such concerns.

"Pending the introduction of a media council, the Ministry should consider establishing a pro-tem committee to review such disputes to ensure that media freedom is not eroded by members of Pakatan Harapan administration that fails to appreciate the importance of media freedom," Sevan said in a press statement on Saturday (Feb 23)," Sevan said.

According to Sevan, in the past, the public's trust in RTM and its contents was eroded because of decades of political patronage and bias.

"If RTM were to regain public trust and serve the needs of all Malaysians, it must be allowed to operate independently and be free from all political interference by the executive," he added.

The proposal by Suaram comes in wake of the recent debacle surrounding accusations of sabotage levelled against RTM by Transport Minister Anthony Loke's press secretary Lim Swee Kuan.

Lim had accused RTM of "sabotaging" the federal government after Loke's speech at the 2019 Chinese New Year Open House was not broadcast on Feb 17, saying that "heads must roll".

In a statement on Thursday (Feb 21), Gobind cleared RTM of any wrongdoing, saying that it had complied with existing standard operating procedure (SOP).

He said the SOP within RTM clearly stated that where the Prime Minister attended an official function, only his speech would be broadcast live.