The Lifting of the ban on Justice Bao television series vindicates DAP stand that such a ban violates five important aspects of nation-building


By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, October 12, 1995:

The Lifting of the ban on Justice Bao television series vindicates DAP stand that such a ban violates five important aspects of nation-building

DAP commends the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed for his directive to the Information Ministry to review its outdated guidelines banning television screening of foreign costume dramas.

The Lifting of the ban on Justice Bao television series vindicates DAP stand that such a ban violates five important aspects of nation-building, namely:

*1. Failure to give full recognition to the multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious characteristics of Malaysia;
*2. Failure to promote the Vision 2020 concept of Bangsa Malaysia as expounded by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed as well as the “We Are One Family” principle expounded by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim during the recent general election.
3. A denigration and repudiation of the important role of history in nation-building;
4. A lack of commitment to declare war on corruption and abuse of power in high political places, and
5. Repudiation of the Values of Upright Judges and Honest Officials.

Up to now, nobody in Government had been able to advance one good reason for the ban on Justice Bao or on foreign costume dramas.

The attempt by the Information Minister, Datuk Mohamed Rahmat. yesterday to justify the past rationale for the guideline banning costume dramas has made the Information Minister an even greater object of scorn and ridicule in the country.

Mohamad Rahmat said that the “main reason not to allow the screening of Chinese costume dramas was because of the com¬munist; threat then” and “we did not want. to hero-worship China1′.

Is Mohamad Rahmat seriously suggesting that in the past, the theme of war against corruption and abuses of power in a television series like justice Bao had been identified and equated by the Ministry of Information big-guns with the “communist threat” – and that Mohamad Rahmat had done nothing to correct such an outrageous concept although he had been Minister for Information for some 12 years altogether?

I do not understand the second reason given by Mohamad Rahmat, that in the past “we did not want to hero-worship China”. Is Mohamad Rahmat suggesting that it is all right now for Malay¬sians to “hero-worship” China?

The Justice Bao farce has seriously farnished the image of Mohamad Rahmat and the whole Information Ministry, and it should be an object lesson to all Cabinet Ministers and top government officials that they should not use the mind-set and mentality of the 1960s and 1970s to deal with the problems and challenges faced by Malaysia on the threshold of the 21st century and in a revolutionary era of information technology.

The battle for the lifting of the ban on the Jus¬tice Bao series was won even before the Cabinet met. yesterday.

From the post-Cabinet statement given by Mohamad Rahmat, it is clear that battle for the lifting of the ban on the Justice Bao series was won even before the Cabinet met yesterday.

Mohamad Rahmat even tried to give the impression that he was himself the “champion of. change”.

Mohamad Rahmat said that two days before the Cabinet meeting, he had met the Prime Minister and briefed him that the existing regulations were no longer suitable as they were formu¬lated during the communist insurgency.

He said that, the Prime Minister directed him to review the Information Ministry guidelines and the Broadcasting Code of Ethics.

If this is the case, then there would be nothing very much to discuss on the Justice Bao issue in the Cabinet, yesterday as all that would have transpired would be for Mohamed Rahmat to report that he had lifted the ban on the Justice Bao series and was acting on the Prime Minister’s directive to review the ban on all other foreign costume dramas.

Mohamad Rahmat should not continue to confuse the public by talking about, the Broadcasting Act 1988 prohibiting television stations screening costume dramas, as there could be no such provision in the Act.

If there are such provisions in the Broadcasting Act, then it. would not ne within the powers of Mohamed Rahmat to review and allow the screening of costume dramas from earlv November – as the Minister of Information has no powers to amend the Broadcasting Act, which is exclusively the prerogative of. Parliament.

If the Broadcasting Act had been responsible for the banning or costume dramas, then the ban on Justice Bao could not be lilted and the earliest the ban on costume dramas could be lifted is not early November, but early next year – until both the Dewan Rakyat and the Dewan Negara had passed amendments to the Broadcasting Act, received the Royal Assent and gazetted:

The Minister of Information had full powers to allow the screening of Justice Bao and all foreign costume dramas without having to go to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet but Mohamaed Rahmat failed to discharge his Ministerial duties to the people and country.