TUARAN May 8, 2012: Malaysia is a relatively new democracy and could not be compared to other more developed western democracies in relation to media transparency, according to the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia.
He said to make any direct comparison to advanced countries like the United States and the United Kingdom would be unfair, as the country still is at a lower maturity level and trying to chart its future.
Although it is a fact that Malaysia has yet to attain the essential level and still far from the ideal democracy expounded by the West, to simply adopt a ‘copy and paste’ method without taking into account the different and unique factors faced by the country would not work, he said.
“Their systems have existed for hundreds of years, so why compare when the playing field is not even,” Pandikar Amin asked when commenting on the transparency of the Malaysian media in the reporting of the recent array of political events in the country.
“But we must be wary that while the United States may lead as a proponent of human rights, do not forget where slavery originated or came from.
“That is why I said the ‘copy and paste’ approach is not right as it will only bring more harm than good,” he said to reporters at the National Institute of Public Administration (Intan) Sabah campus yesterday.
Earlier, Pandikar Amin presented a premier talk to civil servants entitled ‘Managing Leadership Conflict: From the View of the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat’.
Pandikar Amin said while the country had always been pressured or asked to follow the cue by the westerners, it was ironical that during the economic crisis of 1997, when the economic crisis gripped the US, the issue of transparency was never brought up.
He gave another instance, when the country was bombarded due to the existence of the Internal Security Act (ISA) which has since been repealed, but then the US had adopted a very aggresive stance after the September 11 incident as they grow suspicious of every visiting civilian and are known to be hard when handling certain cases.
Pandikar Amin said the Broadcasting Department should strive for respect by internal self-regulation and assessment in presenting information and reports.
He admitted the country is still a long way away from achieving a public service that is non-partisan in politics as politicial leaders still have the tendency to controlling who should be the head of a certain department or agency to suit their policies or interests.
“I cannot blame government officers for taking sides, because what happens now is when the minister changes, not only the policies change, but the government officers as well.
“For instance, someone (after taking over from his predecessor) may say ‘I don’t want this district officer because he is not my supporter, I want him replaced’. This happens.
“So, it has to start with the politicians themselves. If we can do this, then we need not fear about civil servants being partisans and biased, because their positions are secured regardless who the leaders are,” he said.
Meanwhile, when asked to comment on members of parliament (MPs) or assemblymen alleged to have been involved in the recent Bersih 3.0 rally, Pandikar Amin said the country practises parliamentary democracy and any individual is free to express themselves.
However, he said that there are limits, and an individual’s right in democracy ceases when he or she tramples upon the rights of others.
“For example, it may not be wrong to hold demonstrations, but when it affects businesses and properties or vehicles are destroyed in the name of the people’s rights, that situation is exerted upon others,” he said.
On a separate issue, Pandikar Amin was asked whether he has any intention to contest in the coming elections when his term as Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat expires, he responded by saying that he would take things one day at a time.
“In politics, you must know what is teamwork. We do not determine if we will contest or not, the one who decides is our leadership.
“What I’ve proven is that I’m loyal to the party, I’m loyal to the nation and for any responsibility given to me, I shoulder it,” he said, adding that he would be all right with any decision made.
by Murib Morpi