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[…] Fight for Media Freedom This video is taken from the BENAR website here. […]
The Lingam Tape Inquiry is out. And the first to be “victimised” is the press.
I read that a report has been lodged against NST, Berita Harian and the Star for releasing information and excerpts from the Inquiry before the Cabinet decided to release the report. They are being charged under the OSA.
Is this right? Why should the press be subjected to charges like this when they were only printing the truth? And besides, it was the ROYAL COMMISSION, so whatever findings came from the Inquiry would have had to be made public anyway.
The Police Report against the media is merely more of Malaysian sandiwara.
No one believes that the MSM would publish anything so major unless it was cleared at the highest levels. The release was intended to trigger an effect. Exactly what the intended effect was to be, we can guess at. The Police Report was made merely to provide the illusion of propriety and outrage.
Now we can watch the next stage – how the investigations recommended by the Cabinet will be carried out, how they will be carefully guided and sensitive areas protected from exposure.
Freedom of Information remains a dream. But if we stop dreaming, the reality will disappear.
Let us dream on, and think about how to make it a reality.
The OSA seems to be the only legislation that the government can use against these papers in this instance. The basis will be that the report remains a secret document until declassified. Therefore, technically, they have breached the Act and I’d say there is a prima facie case.
Whether the government will formally charge these organisations and their editors remains to be seen. After all, as you said, what they reported was spot on and since the government has decided to release the report in full, what damage is there? Thus a prosecution will not be a popular move and will only give those campaigning for media freedom more sound bytes. The government may not want this and could just fine and severely reprimand the papers and their editors as a warning to them that March 8, 2008 changes nothing so far as their freedom is concerned. Or it may even use this opportunity to kick up a big fuss and let them off fairly lightly to say to the people, “See the laws are not as draconian as some people want you to believe”.
Now, someone must have leaked the information to the papers and this person or persons must be at risk too. It would seem rather odd if stern action is taken against the papers and the government is not interested to find out who leaked the information.
I personally felt that the media should have taken a strong stand in my post “Silence of the Lamb(s)” regarding whether the government should release the report. Had they done that they would have gained more points with their readers.
Singam’s theory of sandiwara is highly possible. They dare not even tell the government that disclosing the report should be a no-brainer and yet dare to reveal matters in a document stamped “Secret”.
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