by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, February 15, 1994:
The breach of journalistic trust and ethics by RTM and TV3 is not only a gross abuse of power, but represents one of the most undemocratic aspects of general elections in Malaysia
In the past two weeks, the radio and television news channels of RTM and TV3 have abandoned all pretence of independent and professional journalism, and operated as mere propaganda mouthpieces of the Barisan Nasional with one mission – to help Barisan Nasional to topple PBS State Government through a systematicc one-sided, biased and tendentious reporting of the Sabah state general elections.
RTM even carried daily broadcasts of a song calling for a change of government in Sabah, Is this daily broadcasts of the song calling for a change of government a political advertisement paid for by the Barisan Nasional, or is it a ‘contribution’ by the Federal Government in the Barisan Nasional Federal campaian to topple the PBS State Government, of Sabah on February 18 and 19?
If this song is a political advertisement, how much did the Barisan Nasional pay for the daily broadcasts, and why other political parties were denied such advertisement rights over RTM?
If the song is a contribution by the Federal Govern¬ment in the Barisan Nasional effort to topple the PBS Government of Sabah, this is another example of the gross abuse of power by the Barisan Nasional Government at Federal and State government levels.
In actual fact, the breach of journalistic trust and ethics by the RTM and TV3 coverage of the Sabah state general election is not only a gross abuse of power, it represents one of the most undemocratic aspects of general elections in Malaysia.
The disgraceful level radio and television journalism had descended to in the Sabah state general election should open the eyes of Malaysians to the need for the public to demand accountability of the mass media to the people.
It also highlighted one of the evils of privatisation where TV3 for instance made no distinction between news and propaganda over its news telecasts,
DAP calls for a Press Council to check the journalistic abuses and breach of trust, and ethics by both written and electronic mass media
I had a recent personal experience of the total disre¬gard of journalistic ethics by TV3.
This concerned Australian mass media allegation that Malaysian politicians and MPs had been bribed by Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) agents.
The Sydney Sunday Telegraph first carried a report of the allegations on January 16, 1994, stating that ‘senior opposition politicians’ had been bribed by Australian spies. The Malaysian Cabinet did nothing about the report until ten days later, when at its Cabinet meeting of 25th January, it decided to feed it to the Malaysian press.
On the same day, TV3 asked for an interview with me, probably thinking that DAP leaders had been caught in a scandalous situation, and gave a lot of air time to the allegations.
However, when the Canberra Times reported on February 3 that it was not opposition politicians and MPs in Malaysia who had been bribed by Australian spies, but government politicians and MPs, TV3 lost all interest and even refused to give any mention to the Canberra Times report.
Apparently, to the TV news-controllers, it is only news when allegations are made about opposition politicians being bribed by Australian spies – but it is not news when allegations are made against government, politicians being bribed by Australian spies!
The time has come for the establishment of a Press Council to act as a watchdog to check the journalistic abuses and breach of journalistic trust and ethics by both the written and printed mass media in Malaysia.