Towards a Free and Fair Press in Malaysia

Anwar Fazal,  Senior Regional Advisor with the United Nations Development Programme, made this speech at the First Anniversary Dinner of Malaysiakini  in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 15 November 2000.


The bad news is that we live in a world dominated by the evil forces of violence, waste and manipulation, of insincerity and double standards, reckless destruction of the environment, greed and selfishness and ‘casino capitalism’.

The good news is that there is a magnificent proliferation of civil society seeking a new world based on five fundamentals – social justice, ecological sustainability, cultural vibrancy, political participation and economic productivity.

This magnificent proliferation is driven by five powers – the power of “one”,  “many”, “faith”,  “information” and “success”.

Malaysiakini, whose first year we celebrate today, is part of this magnificent proliferation of civic power, vision and values. It is an inspiring story of good work. It represents many good things, amongst them:

·         A new-age journalism utilising the best of the new information and communication technologies.

·         Localisation – challenging a world dominated by global media monopolies and interests and the sad fact that you often had to read critical news of your country from abroad;

·         Diversity – contributing to the kind of balanced, and balancing, reporting that can ensure an informed citizenry,  consumersand and   electorate – all key to developing a good and just society;

·         A powerful combination of youth, courage, and commitment;

·         Hope for a better future for a nation so blessed with goodness and yet so wanting still in so many areas of economics, equity and ecology.

In a world where media is driven too often by crass commercialism or degenerates into blatant propaganda, a ‘third system’ of journalism of the kind Malaysiakini aspires to, that represents fairness, justice and accuracy, must surely be welcomed.

To maintain such a commitment to the intellectual and social capital of Malaysia is a special challenge, that of sustainability. In a short 12 months, Malaysiakini has shown what can be done and it wants to do more and from a stronger and domestic base of resources. For this purpose, it gives me great pleasure to launch and invite you to support the Malaysiakini Independent Media Fund.

The Malaysiakini team hopes, with the support of its readers, to raise RM 500,000 a year from its 100,000 readers. It hopes not only to expand its efforts to deliver free and fair news, but also to expand its services to hand phones and, with the advent of internet broadband, even to your TV sets. The fund, I understand, will be supervised by an independent board who will guarantee proper audit, transparency and accountability.

I want to end by sharing with you two extracts from poems of Cecil Rajendra, another leading light of Malaysia’s conscience.

He reminds us about “responsibility” through these words:

“Never say you do not care

Remember, you are

Your neighbour’s neighbour.”

He reminds us about ‘hope’ with these words:

“I want to sing to remind us

never to despair

that every hour,

every minute,

somewhere on the face

of this earth

it is a glorious morning..”

Malaysiakini is about ‘responsibility’, and ‘hope’ and I wish it and the fund it has launched today every success in promoting and nurturing a free and fair media and a better Malaysia.

Finally, I make a quick tabulation of what the letters of Malaysiakini could stand for and I would like to share with you:











Not afraid


Thank you for inviting me for this occasion.

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