Write to Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir for greater media freedom
Demand from your elected reps the freedoms of expression, media and information. Our MP of the month is also our information minister (what a lucky coincidence!). Sample letter all ready for you.
Dato' Seri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir
Kulim Bandar Baru Member of Parliament
Jalan Parlimen, 50680, Kuala Lumpur
I am very concerned with the state of freedom of expression, media freedom and freedom of information here in Malaysia. I am writing to ask you, as an elected representative of the people, to please attempt to push for legislative reform to guarantee these fundamental freedoms.
It is distressing to note the regularity with which you have made the media a scapegoat, a practice condemned in a recent speech by our Prime Minister. I hope that you will take on board his defence of the media, so that it can better serve the public interest.
In this context, I’d like to point out why these freedoms are so important:
- In view of the government’s drive against corruption, these freedoms can help both the government and the general public identify and prosecute corruption. By opening up tender documents and publicising projects through a free and independent media, the accountability of all government officials would be strengthened.
- It strengthens the government. A government that knows and responds to criticism, that can attend to alternative views, builds a wider societal base. The present government won a resounding victory in the last general election on the grounds of increased accountability to the public and reduced corruption. Both of these are made more likely with an independent media.
- It would help place Malaysia at the forefront of the Information Age. Information is fast becoming an essential. However, Malaysians are denied basic information about the air we breathe, the way government money is spent or even the reasons why our children do not get into university. Information does not come in discrete bundles – i.e. information that will help us achieve Vision 2020 and information that doesn’t. If it is easy for government officials to hide information, however irrelevant-seeming, they would tend to do so, in any country. Here, government officials have been known to deny information on such trivial matters as the ‘Hantu’ exhibition held in Muzium Negara. This culture of secrecy and the inaccessibility of vital information can only be combatted by vigorous legislative reform.
For these and many other reasons, I would like to propose that the government:
- Repeal legislation that curbs the media.
- Institute safeguards for media freedom and freedom of expression.
- Legislate a freedom of information act.
Thank you for your time, and I look forward to a favourable response from you and your party in the near future.