When compared to freedoms granted to the rakyat to criticise the government openly with neighbouring Singapore, Malaysia is far more respecting the people’s right to free speech. But this does not mean that the freedom given is a ticket for anyone to take the opportunity to spread false news or spinning reports.In an unprecedented situation, Malaysians have been hit by a syndrome into trusting false news as reliable which was produced from the new medias on the internet by their irresponsible reporters. Readers today too tend to be attracted to sensational headlines and worst still when they are encouraged to disseminate them without knowing it could stir panic in the society.
Not that we are not aware that there are opposition parties who are behind certain news portals to be their mouthpieces when in the past, printed news are more troubling and risky. Harakah represents PAS whereas Suara Keadilan is PKR’s, they have lost numerous court cases for their defamation reportings which not only tarnished the political party’s credibility but the penalties reached up to a few hundred of millions and even the printers too were dragged.
Since the internet is crowded with too many news and the news portals concerns are only hunting for their web traffics, some readers are drawn to just reading the headlines and ignored the contents. It is even more dangerous when eventually it is a hoax news but already disseminated broadly.
PM Najib Razak has proven the oppositions’ claims that the government curtail freedom of speech and the foreign media accusations that there are ‘crackdowns’ on free speech in Malaysia, stray off from reality. It is during his premiership that the government has removed the ban on opposition party newspapers by lifting the annual renewal requirement for a printing license under the 1984 Printing Presses and Publications Act. In fact, the Home Ministry’s authority to block, allow or revoke licenses could also be challenged.
Today, the oppositions are enjoying the freedom of speech that they could freely criticise any minister or leaders of Barisan Nasional until the media turn out to be their ‘Wild West’ battlefield platform. Despite these chaotic atmospheres by various statements between warring parties, PM Najib reminds everyone that with freedom comes responsibility.
If we are to think about it rationally, there is no reason why these news portals should disregard reliable resources that can be obtained and confirmed easily from respective officials unless they are malice. Just because the journos are chasing for the first to report, are hoax news able to conquer the truth forever? For that, PM Najib prompted that false news is the cancer of journalism and a betrayal to their readers’ trust.
Undoubtedly that slogans depicting authentic news resources will turn into unreliable resources whereas the first reported news ended up to be the first to lie. There are also news portals that claimed to be superb to expose inside stories but eventually when truth prevails, they are just fictitious. It is not too difficult to sense any of these hoax news when their sources depended so much on anonymous or perhaps written as nameless reliable sources.
If any journos, editors or news portals who remained reluctant to comply with their journalism ethics, they are actual cancer to our social sickness.