Freedom of speech from the perspective of mass media, to what extend it has been practiced in Malaysia? Essay - 5480 Words



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Freedom of speech from the perspective of mass media, to what extend it has been practiced in Malaysia?

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Mass media are means of communications (as newspapers, radio, or television) that is designed to reach the mass of the people1. Besides playing the role to inform individual with news, the media together with a sound legal system and an independent judiciary is part of a triumvirate that is essential for a well-functioning democracy2. In a democratic system of government, mass media is performing a number of essential functions. First, they serve on information or surveillance function. Second, they serve an agenda-setting and interpretation function. Third, they help us to create and maintain connections with various groups in society. Fourth, they help us to socialize and to educate us. Fifth, they persuade us to buy certain items or accept certain ideas. Sixth, they entertain us. Freedom is the power or right to act, speak or think freely. We are now living a media culture and its influence is become very pervasive. The number of hours we spend on the media is mind-boggling. Although the freedom of the media should not be in toto, yet the degree of the freedom of the media will affect the function of the media. Citizens of countries that are democratic see media freedom as a right, not a privilege. Nevertheless, there is no mention of freedom of the press or freedom of the electronic media in our Constitution. However, freedom of media to exercise its role and functions in society has been enshrined as a fundamental human right by way of recognition for the right to freedom of speech, expression and opinion.3

In 1930-1940, there are nearly 80 newspaper and magazines published in the Malay State, such as Utusan Melayu, Saudara, Warta Malaya and Majlis. In Warta Malaya, it published article that talk about the social and economic problems faced by the Malay. However, it did not ask for the British to be chased out. The newspaper, Majlis, discussed the political issues. Majlis not only brings to the awakening and fights for Malays right, their office became the place for the nationalist to meet up and exchange their thoughts.

In the newspapers Saudara, there was a column named ‘Persaudaraan Sahabat Pena’ where the Malay readers exchanged their point of view. British was worried on the development of this column and therefore took the step to overseen those who involved in the said column.

In view of the number of publications that existed during the time and the situation whereby those newspapers are free to discussed any issues, and the fact that the newspapers has played a vital role in the movement towards independence, we can conclude that under the administration of British, the media was enjoying the freedom of speech.

The law on the freedom of speech became clearer during the time prior to independence. Certain law has been introduced to the Malay State. One of the laws which governed the freedom of speech at that time was the Sedition Act 1948. Section 4 of the Act makes it an offence to make, prepare, or to conspire, to do a seditions act, to utter seditious words, and to propagate or import any seditious publications. Section 3 provides that a seditious tendency is one which tends to (a) bring hatred or contempt to the government or excite disaffection against any Ruler or government, (b) excite the countrymen to revolt, (c) bring into hatred or contempt or excites disaffection against administration of justice, (d) raise discontent or disaffection among the countrymen, or (e) promote feelings of ill-will and hostility amongst the inhabitants of the country.

Besides, there were two ordinances specifically deal with the printed media at that time, i.e. Printing Press Act 1948 (Ord 12 of 1948) and Control of Imported Publications Act 1958 (Ord 14 of 1955). The former deal with the publisher in the Malay State while the later governing the printed material from other country.

Those laws were limiting freedom of speech of the media at the British colonial the light of... Show More

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