Press Freedom in Malaysia and in Australia

Dean Johns in his Malaysiakini column – Pressing on against oppression ( said these poignant words:

No nation on earth can be truly free and democratic without media that keep its people informed without fear or favour. So it’s vital that we keep up the pressure against the oppressors of the press, be they the propagandists of the People’s Republic, self-serving potentates like News Corp’s Murdoch, or Malaysia’s BN government and its pernicious Printing Press and Publications Act

I am amused with his reference to News Corp and Murdoch. From my understanding, it has to be emphasised that Dean Johns is personally boycotting Murdoch’s papers such as the Australian. This is what he has to say:

I can still do my bit to promote journalistic excellence down here though, by continuing my personal boycott of the many Australian media that squander their freedom from government control by pandering to their proprietors’ commercial interests and the insatiable appetite of their audience for sensationalism, trivia and trash.

Now perhaps people (or even Dean Johns himself) can clarify whether he is indeed boycotting Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers.

Interestingly The Australian has this news item. Here is a part of the article

Newspaper raid ‘like in Malaysia’ – May 2, 2008

Major media organisations yesterday unanimously condemned a government-instigated raid on The Sunday Times newspaper in Perth and leading media academics likened it to oppressive tactics used in Malaysia.

The newspaper was locked down for about four hours on Wednesday as 16 police from the Major Fraud Squad tried to find a confidential document allegedly leaked to journalist Paul Lampathakis for a story about election funding. The complaint to police, and to the Corruption and Crime Commission, came from the department of Premier Alan Carpenter, a former journalist.

The Carpenter Government tried to defend itself yesterday, saying the director-general of Mr Carpenter’s department had been obliged by law to report the alleged leak to both the Major Fraud Squad and the CCC.

The CCC has the power to compel journalists to reveal their sources or receive three years’ jail and a $60,000 fine. Those called in to be grilled – there are believed to have been six in the past two years – are not allowed to tell friends or families they have been questioned.

Murdoch University journalism lecturer Chris Smyth said: “Western Australia is starting to excel in the repression of reporters going about their duties trying to reveal information to the public.”


And so The Australian is speaking against press oppression…

So what did Dean Johns said about The Australian…???

Perhaps I better read Dean Johns’ Malaysiakini column…again…

But I know one thing for sure – Australia does not have a restrictive regulatory regime which obstructs journalists and journalism… compared to Malaysia… of course….

Nevertheless Australia does have the Sedition Act. Interestingly this act was “resurrected” in 2005. However, the Sunday Times raid in Perth does not involve sedition or acts of sedition.


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