COMMENT | Let’s hope that Pakatan Harapan turns out to be true to its name and that its recent crushing victory over Malaysia’s seemingly endlessly-ruling and increasingly corrupt and repressive Umno/BN regime really does presage the kind of true freedom of the press that Malaysiakini and a few other news portals have so fearlessly pioneered.
Because such progress would not only be a boon to the Malaysian people, officially deprived of truth and transparency as they’ve been for decades, but would also provide a sorely-needed confidence-boost to all those of us concerned about press freedom everywhere.
Not that I’m one of the doomsayers claiming that press freedom is in its death-throes due to the destructive efforts of everyone, from Donald ‘Fake News’ Trump to the despotic regimes heading the countless dictatorships and fraudulent ‘democracies’ around the world.
Unlike the many pessimists currently prophesying the terminal decline or freedoom of the press, I perceive press freedom being still in its hopeful infancy.
Historically speaking, for example, in the context of the countless centuries through which humankind has existed, the printing press itself was born a mere 500 or so years ago, or relatively very recently indeed.
And only around 370 years ago, when poet John Milton published his famous 1644 pamphlet “Areopagitica, A Speech… For the Liberty of Unlicens’d Printing to the Parliament of England”, not only were there yet no newspapers as we know them, let alone all the other media invented since, but the very idea of press freedom seemed virtually unthinkable.
In fact, according to the book The Newspaper (Anthony Smith, 1979, Thames and Hudson, London), even by 1776, the year in which the American colonies that would become the US published their Declaration of Independence, no country in the world accorded its citizens the right of free publication.
It wasn’t until 1849 that John Stuart Mill could confidently write in his classic tract On Liberty that “the time, it is to be hoped, is gone by when any defence would be necessary of the ‘liberty of the press’ as one of the securities against corrupt or tyrannical government.”
And it was only as late as 1948 that the UN, in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, deemed it a duty incumbent on all nations to respect the right of free publication of news and opinion, in any and every medium and regardless of national borders...
Unrestrained power in your hands
For almost 20 years, Malaysiakini has stayed true to the cause of providing the Malaysian public with the truth. We believe that with unadulterated information, the people will obtain power to make informed decisions.
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Who says it's not our fault?
We aren’t trained to take responsibility.
Everytime we observe an injustice - and choose to keep mum - the prevalence of injustice becomes our fault.
Astute journalism paves the way for the public to be continuously furnished with the fastidious truth. You are continuously empowered to act and to uphold the integrity of the nation.
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Independent for 20 years.
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Quietly. Effectively. Says it all. Malaysiakini.
Speaking truth to power
When we embarked on this journey 20 years ago, we knew we would face intimidation, harassment, raids, arrests and perhaps even jail terms. We got into this venture with our eyes wide open.
The main reason we have survived this long - when many others have folded - is partly because we are prudent in our finances. But while we may be tightfisted in our budgeting, we do not hold back when it comes to speaking truth to power and holding power to account. And certainly, this new administration will not stop us from continuing to do so.