by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Monday, February 22, 1995:
RTM’s political broadcasts should include television to make the next general elections internationally-recognised as ‘free, fair and clean’
The Minister for Information, Datuk Mohamed Rahmat, said on Sunday that the Information Ministry has decided to continue with political radio broadcasts over RTM for the coming general election.
Mohamed said that the Information Ministry has decided that radio is “the ideal, media for the airing of these political broadcasts as it is becoming increasingly popular with the public these days” and that it is therefore unnecessary to use the television media for this purpose.
If Mohamed Rahmat is convinced that the radio is a better and more popular media than television for political broadcasts, is he going to recommend to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to stop using the television media and to confine himself solely to the ‘more effective’ radio channels for his daily political speeches and pronouncements?
The DAP does not mind using the ‘less effective’ medium of television and letting the Barisan Nasional leaders to monopolise the ‘more effective’ medium of radio political broadcasts!
Or is the whole intention of Mohamed’s statement purely to continue to exclude the Opposition from the television media as in the previous general elections?
The previous formats of radio political broadcasts during general elections are most unsatisfactory and unacceptable, for they do not give all contesting political parties and candidates free and equal access to the electronic media.
Mohamed’s announcement is therefore a great disappointment, and he has gone back on his public undertaking at the end of last year that the government was considering whether to liberalise political party broadcasts and expand such coverage from radio to television.
Mohamed should invite all political parties to a meeting to discuss how radio and television could contribute to make the next general election internationally-recognised as ‘free, fair and clean’
All political parties should be invited to a conference to discuss how there could be a fairer radio and television coverage for the next general elections, as it is in the national interest that the general elections should be accepted locally as well as internationally as truly “free, fair and clean’.
Mohamed’s announcement in fact falls far short of the standard set by the Election Commission in September last year as to what is fair and balanced radio and television coverage in the next general election.
The Election Commission had asked for powers to decide a fair and balanced programme for political broadcasts and advertisements over state-owned media for all political parties contesting in the general election, as well as regulate or stop abuses which give the ruling party a clear advantage over radio and television in the election campaign.
In the next general election, the government should either allow the state-owned radio and television channels to adopt a new liberal policy giving free and equal access to all contesting parties, or it should allow opposition parties or the private sector to operate radio and television channels to cover the general election.
Mohamed should be prepared to have a more liberal radio and television coverage as the Barisan Nasional is so confident about the next general election, with over 40 per cent of the nine million voters as Barisan Nasional members
Mohamed should be prepared to have a more liberal radio and television coverage as the Bariaan Nasional is so confident about the next general election, with over 40 per cent of the nine million voters as Barisan Nasional members.
Mohamad Rahmat, who is also Barisan Nasional secretary-general, expressed the confidence of the Barisan Nasional for the next general election only last weekend, when he pointed out that the collective membership of the Barisan Nasional Already made up more than 10 per cent of the total voters.
He said: “The total Barisan membership in the various parties is more than four million against the nine million registered voters.”