Think tank Political Studies for Change (KPRU) urges BN to reverse its instituted ban on the online media portals in the run up to the 13th Malaysian general election (GE13) as it does not reflect the good faith by BN and Umno towards media freedom.
Online news portals Malaysiakini, The Malaysian Insider and KiniTv were banned from covering the announcement of BN's election candidates at Umno headquarters yesterday.
Proponents might agree with the ban by saying this is in line with the decision on the opposition parties to ban Utusan Malaysia from covering news from the opposition.
Yet, what must be considered is there are distinctions between the ban on the three online media portals and the ban on Utusan.
The distinction lie in the fact of the inability of Utusan to report news without distorting the truth as well as providing opportunities for both parties to voice out their clarification.
It is also because Utusan is usually associated with reporting biased reports that place BN and Umno in good light and at the same time, spreading false news concerning the opposition.
What is to be also be noted is the recent string of litigation in which the court has on several times concluded that Utusan was liable for false reports concerning the opposition.
All three online news portals Malaysiakini, The Malaysian Insider and KiniTv on the other hand are usually associated with fair reporting in which parties to a news report are given the opportunity to give their explanations and defend their decisions and actions.
While Utusan is usually associated as being a pro-BN and Umno newspaper, that is not applicable to be used on the three online media portals that were banned from covering news relating BN and Umno.
Just as the online media portals are given the responsibility to report fair and concise news reports, political parties have the responsibility to give reason and cause for banning a media online portal from covering them.
The ban instituted on the three online media portals show BN and Umno as failing to accept news reports that do not run parallel with their opinions although given fair opportunity to explain themselves as well as defending their opinions and actions.
KPRU urges BN and Umno to reverse its ban and show the voters that BN and Umno are fair and mature political parties.
BN and Umno have been given the opportunity to show the voters that they are a political party that emphasises media freedom but this decision reflects the complete opposite.
The failure by BN and Umno to provide justification for the ban on Malaysiakini, The Malaysian Insider and KiniTv mirrors the mala fide intention against all three online media portals.
A justification should be given to avoid a misunderstanding between BN, Umno and the media as well as the public.