PR can authorize Makkal Osai to print

Posted on April 19, 2008


By Helen Ang




The activist who has been the chiefest proponent of a Pakatan Rakyat newspaper, Wong Chin Huat suggests rescuing Makkal Osai by having one of the PR State Governments grant it permission to print, and told me some efforts to this end are afoot.


He points out that Section 25 (1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 says: “Nothing in this Act shall extend to the publication or making of any documents or periodical by or for the Federal or any State Government or any statutory body.”


Meaning, a paper published by the state will not fall under the PPPA. Chin Huat urges, “We can see Makkal Osai tomorrow back on the news stand if any of the PR State Governments will issue an authorization letter today for the daily to publish for the state.”


He had discovered the exemption clause a while back (and it was made known to PAS, PKR and DAP) as well as alerted me when The People’s Parliament launched ‘Boycott the Newspapers!’


Before March 8, the fear was that BN with their then 2/3 majority in Parliament would act to close this loophole if state newspapers were proposed. However, now’s the time to put the idea more firmly on the table and the banned Tamil newspaper can be a first experiment.


Chin Huat argues, “The opposition and civil society has condemned the suspension of The Star, Sin Chew, Watan (1987), Sarawak Tribune, Guang Ming Daily northern edition, Berita Petang Sarawak, Weekend Mail (2006) and Makkal Osai (2007) but what have all the condemnations achieved? It certainly has not stopped BN from suspending Makkal Osai again!”


Indeed BN in setback have shown themselves to be vindictive of their political opponents, and are downright saboteurs. There’s plenty of mischief in the coalition and March 8 has only wiped away the previously smug veneer to reveal their deep capacity for nastiness.  




Chin Huat’s blog is on the Blogroll right of this page ‘People are the Boss’. He is chairperson of Writer Alliance for Media Independence. WAMI was formed in 2001 when 90 writers banded together and stopped contributing articles to Chinese media to protest MCA’s takeover of Nanyang Press Holding Berhad. 




Hartal MSM stand:


When we launched our Boycott campaign, we were eight individuals who certainly did not possess the overweening hubris to think that we could bring the multi-billion ringgit Malaysian newspaper industry to its knees. Nor did we intend to make people lose their jobs.


Our short-term objective had been to blunt BN black propaganda during the election. But now that the political tsunami has upended the old scheme of things, Hartal MSM agrees newspapers should have breathing space to see if they can bring their fearful heads above water.


Birdseye and BENAR have the full support of our committee to try persuading MSM to report more truthfully. After which we’ll take stock.


With PR in power, the PPPA loophole now provides a fallback position for the newspapers to continue printing should they be suspended by the Home Ministry. So MSM should no longer use the permit requirement as chief excuse not to do their jobs as journalists.


Truth of the matter is, MSM being Malaysia Boleh want their crutches, cake and eat it too.


Over the past 5 years when online alternatives began posing a challenge to them, instead of pressuring BN to repeal the PPPA, newspapers had asked that the same set of government restrictions be applied on non-mainstream info providers so as to level the playing field. MSM’s rationale of fairplay is to hobble competitors instead of breaking free of the shackles that impeded their own freedom to report.


Pursuant to our original purpose, if Boycott has managed to wean some readers away from MSM, then we consider we’ve done a meritorious deed. The Hartal committee does not subscribe to or buy local newspapers, nor by and large read ’em rags.


We once again thank all the Malaysians who have supported our campaign and appreciate your continued participation in giving us feedback as to how MSM is currently performing. It is Makkal Sakhti that will take newspapers to the court of public opinion.