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Friday, May 28, 2010

Civil disorbedience press freedom night

There is going to be a Raja Petra in 'Tak Nak Potong' Night at the KLSCAH (Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall) (KLSCAH location map) tonight starting at 8pm and I am going. I think I will even join in the protests in various forms like, flash mobs or writing complaints send to the mainstream media.

Hope you guys and gals will join us in supporting this small contribution to press freedom either by your presence or by little act of civil disobedience like stop watching and reading the "propaganda" media (newspaper, TV radio) and switch off their TV sets for an hour from 8pm-9pm as well as refrain from buying newspapers today"

Raja Petra in 'Tak Nak Potong' Night
May 28, 10 11:42am
A coalition of pro-press freedom NGOs are planning a wake entitled the "528 Tak Nak Potong Night" today, to commemorate what they claim is the day that press freedom in Malaysia died.

The NGOs organising the event include the 528 Media Action Group, Writers' Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI), Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and the Civil Rights Committee of the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH).
Self-exiled controversial blogger, Raja Petra Kamaruddin (right) himself is set to make a cameo pre-recorded video appearance, scheduled to "Speak Out and Loud" at tonight's anti-censorship festivities, according to the organisers.

The numbers 528 were picked, said the NGOs, to represent May 28, marking the takeover of Chinese dailies by Nanyang Press Holdings in 2001, effectively putting them under the thumb of the ruling coalition's Chinese based component party MCA, through its investment arm Huaren Holdings."

Something which was rinsed and repeated by Umno's takeover of the Malay daily Utusan Malaysia and its widely speculated indirect ownership of other mainstream media, most notably the News Straits Times and Berita Harian.

From then onwards, the groups claimed in an emailed press statement, the freedom of the mainstream media to report independently deteriorated further, culminating in Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's tightened executive control over them during the Hulu Selangor and Sibu by-elections.

According to the statement, the 8pm event at the Jeffrey Cheah Hall in the KLSCAH building, will feature a special night of performance and screening of censored and banned materials including books, films and art work, or as the organiser labelled them, "potong" materials.

These include Amir Muhammad's controversial "18MP" video, former RTM producer Chou Z Lam's (left)axed Bakun documentary, Pusat Komas' "Selepas Tsunami" video seized by the government in Sibu, and Lim Sow Seng's "Lonely KL Press".

While banned publications showcased that night will include political cartoonist Zunar's "Gedung Kartun" and Wong Eng Leong's "Heaven of Demons".

Joining this are Sharon Chin's "Banned Books and Other Monsters" exhibition and Liew Teck Leong's exhibit on "Pull Out: Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984".

The night will also showcase thought-provoking artworks by Fahmi Reza, Five Arts Centre, Tan Hui Koon, Chai Chang Hwang, Satu Hulu Action Group and Teh Hong Seng.

'Propaganda' disobedience

The NGO have also issued an open invitation to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) President Norila Daud, the Group Managing Director of Sinchew Media Group Liew Chen Chuan as well as journalists, editors and citizens of the Klang Valley to participate in a symbolic action of abolishing the infamous Printing Presses and Publications Act by removing a nail each from the "Pull Out: Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984" artwork.

As a form of protest against what they claim to be the heavy hand of government media censorship, the NGOs are also inviting the public to join in their fight via simple acts of civil disobedience.

Those unable to join the protests in various forms like, flash mobs or writing complaints send to the mainstream media were urged to stop watching and reading what they call "propaganda" media and switch off their TV sets for an hour from 8pm-9pm as well as refrain from buying newspapers today.

'Media complicity'

The group added that while May 3 is World Press Freedom Day and May is press freedom month, in Malaysia, the relevance of this day was reinforced by two exposés of self-censorship in TV stations, one after the other.

NTV7 censored Editor's Time, a current affairs programme, in reaction to a text message complaining about the show.

The former producer of the programme, Joshua Wong Ngee Choong, who resigned on April 20 over this self-censorship by NTV7, claimed that the text message was forwarded from the Prime Minister's Department to his supervisor.

Despite Wong's explanation that allegations in the complaint were baseless, the TV station placed restrictions on the programme.

No discussions on political issues or the coming Hulu Selangor by-election were allowed while opposition politicians were banned from the popular forum.

Just a week later, state owned TV channel TV2, axed a current affairs series after running the first couple of episodes.

The programme's producer Chou alleged that his 10-episode daily programme on the social and economic plight of indigenous people displaced by the Bakun Dam project, was shelved to prevent negative feedback ahead of a by-election in the state.

The NGOs contended that Chou's exposé paints a stark picture of media complicity to deprive the public of their right to information citing distress that in both cases, a by-election was cited as the excuse for abandoning discussion of current affairs. This goes against the public's right to be properly informed before discharging their duty to vote.

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