Council should counter media through media, not police
The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) is concerned that the
Subang Jaya Municipal Council plans to lodge a police report against
the journalist and the media outlet which reported unfavourably of the
council. CIJ finds it worrying that the council chooses to view in
criminal light the media's duty to report to the public objectively.
Further, the council should understand that there are democratic
options for pursuing redress, such as right of reply or correction.
On Dec 2, the New Straits Times reported that during a meeting between
the Malaysian Animal Rights and Welfare Association and the council on
the reported cruelty of the council's dog catchers, the councils
officials said they are considering lodging a police report against the
newspaper and its writer for highlighting the incident. The meeting
was referring to a Nov 10 report that a member of the public witnessed
council officers on stray dogs operation behaving cruelly to one of the
CIJ is concerned that the media may face undue pressure merely for
doing its job since the state is not using less harsh options. The
council, if it feels that it has been unfairly reported, can always
give its version of the event to the press and seek a correction or an
apology if the media had been clearly shown to be wrong. Turning to
laws immediately reflects a poor appreciation of the role of the press
and an impression that public scrutiny on its performance is unwelcome.
CIJ asks the council to desist from such action now and in future. As
with any public body funded by tax-payers, the council must be governed
by transparency and openness, which will also boost its image
and standing. And one barometer of transparency is the level of respect
and freedom accorded to the press for it to do its job.
The Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia (CIJ) aspires for a
society that is democratic, just and free, where all people enjoy free
media and the freedom to express, seek, and impart information.
Yip Wai Fong
For more information, please call 03 40230772.