CIJ making loud demands, and then what?

By Hartal MSM

The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and Wami just drafted an online petition — which among other things — demanded by the end of the month for:

1. An explanation by NTV7 and TV2 on the latest incidents of alleged censorship.
2. An unequivocal assurance from the Prime Minister that no one in his administration or family will undermine media practitioners professional judgement in the choice of topics, angles and news sources.

We’re asking CIJ this.

What if by May 31, Najib & his 1Family fail to provide the “unequivocal assurance” demanded by you? And the two television stations do not give the explanation sought by you? Then what will you do, pray tell? Threaten them some more?

We all know that those causes having the support of PAS grassroots can draw tens of thousands of demonstrators into the street because their fearless people have the strong enough commitment. Ex-detainee Mat Shah believes he owes his release not too long ago to public pressure after the ‘Abolish ISA’ mammoth demo.

However the ability of aircon room-outfit CIJ to mobilize and galvanise is in doubt. What we see is that CIJ is only good at issuing Press releases all the time and insipid ones at that [to borrow uppercaise’s desription — “the usual regrets” … or murmuring noises].

Here is CIJ’s own report of the last time they tried to get a public show of support:

“On 1 June [2008], a CIJ-organised walk for freedom by journalists was disallowed, causing the participants to walk in pairs to avoid the appearance of a gathering”. (page 7, here)

The turnout at the  ‘non-gathering’ — by the organiser’s own admission — was a paltry 150.


[note: CIJ”s sidekick Wami has a better track record with the Nanyang boycott].

They booed Zaid

Then Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim, who spoke as a special guest at the CIJ event, had asked mainstream media (MSM) to look at themselves first before complaining so much and putting all the blame on the government. He asked MSM practitioners: “… do you take up an unpopular issue with your news-owner?”

A section of the journo crowd in the National Press Club that day booed Zaid, even though he had made a penetrating point. The truth hurts, ya?

What Zaid said has recently come home to roost. Two professionals in broadcast media did take up their cause with the owners.

Malaysiakini had an exclusive interview with ntv7’s Joshua Wong who quit the station [see our related postings] and TV2’s Chou Z Nam whose Bakun documentary was taken off the air.

Attitude inside the industry

What they had to say is nothing new to Hartal but for the record, in the mKini story ‘Journalists not just ‘regular’ employees’, Wong was quoted as saying:

“My colleagues don’t see things from this perspective so it is difficult to persuade them to understand why I tendered my resignation.” The perspective he means is a “responsibility to the public”.

According to the article, Wong said co-workers had told him to compromise in order to keep his job.

Meanwhile Chou told mKini about the reaction of his colleagues to his predicament: “They also say that if we (all) want to remain in the media, (then) we should (reconsider) our approach (to presenting the issues) and do it in a different way.”

Not bucking the system

What Chou has described is the ‘work-with-the-system’ school of thought, i.e. what was advocated by certain so-called ‘leading lights’ from MSM – one of them the ex-Sun assistant editor gracing the CIJ forum this Saturday.

Mainly the journos have chosen to remain inside. We do not blame the run-of-the-mills and backroom workers who need to cari makan and support their families.

However, those who cast themselves as Brenda Starrs and Clark Kents basking in the limelight had proudly collected the rewards and awards given in recognition for their co-operation with the system.

It is this jaga periuk nasi / taking care of one’s rice bowl capitulation that perpetuated the system that pushed the MSM deteriorate to what it is today.

8 Responses to “CIJ making loud demands, and then what?”
  1. Leong Yook Kong says:

    Just had a meeting with Jabatan Pembangunan Kemahiran (JPK) and Public Complaint Bureau but was extremely disheartened that no decision could be made. For the simple reason that JPK invoked Section 71 of National Skills Development Act 2006 and hid under the provision of “obligations of secrecy”. It was a waste of time because the purpose of the meeting was completely defeated.

    The right to information is very important to the rakyat and this issue was raised by one of the MPs in Parliament on 8.4.2010.

  2. percolator says:

    ooh… I’m getting such a delicious neck stretch from the multiple sneers, and can’t resist contributing a couple meself:
    One— Why borrow {arr got ask permission or not?} uppercaise’s description? Don’t have any of your own, meh? Eh, be oliginal lah
    Two—Apart from the gooseneck, to pinjam your words, “and then what?” How this post help (oho, pinjam lagi words) “promote a free and fair media…”?

    Now remember, if want to simply hantam, come your turn, must not be so thin-skinned and take it on the chin, ok!

    • hartalmsm says:

      My, my, with such contortions to your gooseneck, you must be getting unsightly stretch marks. Perhaps some beauty therapy would be in order.

  3. Sonia Randhawa says:

    While I cannot answer the question of what next, in terms of what CIJ plans to do, I would like to answer a couple of the other points raised in this post.

    CIJ engages actively in various activities outside issuing press statements.
    Hartal MSM: We encourage readers to Google CIJ’s abundance of press statements versus reports of its on-the-ground work.

    The activity I have most respect for is the training of citizen journalists from indigenous and marginalised communities. CIJ works or has worked with (primarily women) from indigenous communities in Sabah, Sarawak and peninsular Malaysia, urban poor in long-houses, school-children from Kampung Medan, kindergarten teachers, fishermen and farmers, the postal union and others training them on using the media, the importance of freedom of information, how to write and issue press statements of their own and how to use the internet and start up blogs.
    Hartal MSM: You mean like this one, “This year [Nov 2009], we will take advantage of the popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter as well as the Short Messaging Service (SMS) to invite individuals to do their bit to mobilise support for the campaign to end gender violence” (Gayathry Venkiteswaran, CIJ executive director) Using Facebook? Twitter? sms? & CIJ is not an “aircon-room outfit”?

    Another major activity has been on FOI. CIJ has also worked with lawyers, indigenous people, women’s groups and others to draft a Freedom of Information Act that is progressive and that meets international standards – done before March ’08. This has been used as the basis for the laws under consideration by Selangor and Penang, and CIJ has been actively trying to ensure that there is no watering down of the principles enshrined in the legislation.

    As for most of the post – the booing of Zaid and the activities of mainstream journalists – CIJ does not claim to be representative of the mainstream media. It has worked consistently to engage with journalists, not always successfully, and I’m sure they would welcome suggestions and volunteers to help improve in this area.

    Lastly, I’d like to comment on the snide aircon remark. I’d like to point out that all long-term CIJ staff have worked at times for half or no pay due to their commitment to pushing for greater media freedom. Staff have moved from high-paying positions to take up poorly paid insecure jobs with the NGO. THe organisation has been maintained only thanks to contributions, in time and money, from volunteers and supporters.
    Hartal MSM: Yes, we’re aware that CIJ has actively been soliciting and getting contributions from generous sponsors, incl. foreign sponsorship. CIJ has a full complement of paid staff, incl. even a Publicity Officer. And besides, other people are equally “pushing for greater media freedom”; Hartal MSM is 100% run by volunteers.
    As both a CIJ director and a Malaysian citizen, I’m personally grateful for their dedication and hard work on the behalf of media freedom.

    Sonia Randhawa
    Note: This is not an official CIJ response. While I am a director of the organisation, I am no longer involved in the day-to-day running of CIJ.


    Press on for universal Press Freedom
    All over the world and not just random
    For mankind is not meant to be under fiefdom
    With greater message to share about His kingdom

    (C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng – 070510
    Fri. 7th May 2010.

  5. percolator says:

    hehe..there you go. Very predictable infantile comeback instead of a credible response. And oh, did you pause to breathe (brain needs oxygen to function, lah) between the sneers to actually read who else joined the chorus making the loud demands LOUDER? Breathe and count one,……TEN! others including SABM (omg!).

    1. Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)
    2. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
    3. Civil Rights Committee of KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (CRC-KLSCAH)
    4. Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (BERSIH)
    5. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
    6. Zunar & ‘Gedung Kartun’ Group
    7. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
    8. Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI)
    9. Research for Social Advancement (REFSA)
    10. New Era College Progressive Front

    Not one tiny SNEER from them. Wonder why? Take a deep breath, lah.

    • hartalmsm says:

      “credible” response? you got the response quite befitting the standard you display lah.

      your level of discourse is (not at all unexpectedly) commensurate with your level of “oliginal” spelling, which obviously correlates with your level of enunciation which is totally unsurprising for one of your “meh”, “eh” and lack of “arr”ticulation.

      in our very first sentence, we said CIJ & Wami (at No.1 & No.2) “drafted” the petition. Are you saying SABM at No.7 or New Era at No.10 co-drafted it? We don’t think so.

      you should quickly release your breath lah. holding it is making your distended gooseneck swell even unsightlier.

  6. matured-adult says:

    simply denouncing NGOs that are paid to do their job ‘unlike volunteers’ to be perpetuating a system because they want to ‘jaga periuk nasi’ is hypocritical. perhaps the writers should look at where they get their source of income from. Unless you are living sustainably in the forrest, ‘all of us’ are part of the system.

    campaign to hartal MSM all you like.. many will be with you.. but.. one would imagine hartal MSM to garner support with peers and the rakyat as much as possible, instead of deriding those who support the same cause. Such actions are infantile, hypocritical, a tad naive about what the NGOs do, and perhaps indirectly self-glorify the usefulness of their own actions and opinions. Such attitude is counter-productive and reflects badly on hartal MSM in encouraging a movement.
    Hartal MSM: Your ad hominem attack on the team hardly lends any credibility to your rant.
    (1) you snide that “the writers [of this blog] should look at where they get their source of income from”. FYI: Absolutely none of the team members derive our livelihood from MSM. We have our personal blogs. You can read them to get a clue as to our professions.

    (2) When you claim “‘all of us’ are part of the system”, please speak for yourself. None of us in Hartal are part of the MSM system and we never had been any part of that posturing which we criticize above. Thus, your calling us hypocritical is a load of rubbish!

    (3) As to that bit about “garner[ing] support with peers and the rakyat”, we leave the latter to our readers’ discretion — which we adjudge to be more discerning than yours. As to the “peers” mention, read our lips: None of us ARE in the media industry, period!

    It is your unfounded accusations which are “infantile” … not a very ‘oliginal’ choice of epithet to hurl at us, yah? (see ‘percolator’ above).

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