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The Steps that The Journalists will Undertake

Discuss about the Malaysian Media Law for Media.

In the contemporary society, the media, particularly the mass media, is critical because it facilitates the people to perform various important functions in their lives (Anuar, 2007; Buckingham 2013; McCombs 2013). First, the media serves as a surveillance or information function. Through the media, members of the society are able to access the relevant information concerning different aspects that affect their routine lives, for instance the economic and socio-political status in the country. Second, the media serve as a platform through which the people can set agenda and interpretation function. Third, the media helps people in the society to create and maintain connections with different groups in the society. Fourth, the media facilitates socialization among the members of the society. Fifth, the media is used as a marketing tool for purposes of persuading people to purchase particular products and service, or accept certain ideologies. Finally, the media is considered to be an important source of entertainment for the majority of people in the society. Needless to say, all the people around the world, including Malaysians, are inextricably linked to the media (George 2007). In fact, it is argued that the modern society is living in a media culture and its impact on people is becoming increasingly pervasive. Incidentally, the Malay people are shocked with the state of affairs concerning the recurrent floods in the Cameron Highlands. Entrepreneurs and farmers in the area have lost their source of livelihood. As journalists and responsible members of the community in the Cameron Highlands, and adversely affected by the impact of the floods, serious shortage of essentials and water contamination, it is considerably important to initiate the relevant actions that would help to address the problem. In this report, the various steps that responsible Malay journalists will take to address the frequent flooding in the Cameron Highlands and the rest of the country are discoursed.

To achieve the goals of the report, it has been divided into three main sections. The First Section explores the steps that the journalists will undertake to compel the Malaysian Government to permanently address the frequent flooding problem. On the other hand, the Second Section deconstructs the ethical considerations and path processes that the journalists and the members of the society have taken throughout the journey to mitigate the floods and finally restore water to Cameron Highlands and the rest of the country. The report concludes in the Third and final Section with a summary of the content that has been explored in the report. 

The Law-Making Process

As pointed out in the preceding discourse, the media performs various important functions in the society, including: surveillance or information function; serve as a platform through which the people can set agenda and interpretation function; helps people in the society to create and maintain connections with different groups in the society; facilitates socialization among the members of the society; used as a marketing tool for purposes of persuading people to purchase particular products and service, or accept certain ideologies; and is considered to be an important source of entertainment for the majority of people in the society. In a nutshell, the media has significant influences on the society and at the same time, wields immense power in the majority of democratic jurisdictions around the world (Azizuddin Mohd Sani 2008; Tapsell 2013). Hence, it is against this backdrop that it can be argued that journalist can use the media to initiate the enactment and adoption of policies that are necessary in addressing a particular problem affecting the society. Since Malaysia is a democratic country that advocates for the rule of law (Mohamad 2008; Moten 2009; Khoo & Loh, 2014), journalists are better placed to come up with solutions to the frequent flooding in the Cameron Highlands as well as the whole country. Accordingly, they can undertake two steps that are likely to force the Malay Government to permanently address the problem.

Subsequently, the initial step that the journalists will undertake will involve the use of their media platform to drive the countrywide agenda on the urgent need for the Government to address the frequent flooding. Under the Malaysian law, freedom of speech, which also includes the freedom of the press, is qualified (Norris & Inglehart 2010; Masum & Desa 2014). Fundamentally, this qualification of the freedom of speech stems from Article 10(2) of the Malaysian Federal Constitution. Therefore, the journalists can use this inherent freedom to champion for a policy that would have the effect of mitigating the flooding impacts in the Cameron Highlands, for example a policy that promotes initiatives such as the introduction of vegetation cover and the construction of dams to regulate the flow of water in the region’s terrain. The journalist will use the various media outlets to inform the people that the Malaysian Government has for many years failed to meet its obligations so far as protecting the social and economic interests of its people is concerned and that it was time that the people made it accountable. However, it is critical for the journalists to understand that when setting their countrywide agenda through the media campaigns, their freedom of speech is not absolute (Tan, & Ibrahim 2008; Sani & Zengeni 2010). The freedom is restricted to illegitimatizing defamation, hate messages, and messages that have a potential to incite the general public into civil unrest. Therefore, the journalist should draft their campaign messages in such a way that they focus on driving the agenda on the urgent need for the introduction and adoption of the policy that would resolve the flooding problem in the country.


Moreover, after getting the attention of the country, the journalists will prepare and file a petition to the Malaysian Parliament on the subject matter in question. Under the Dewan Rakyat’s Standing Orders, ordinary Malaysian citizens can bring to Parliament matters of their concern for debate through a signed petition. Nonetheless, despite the availability of this legal avenue to advocate for enactment and adoption of a policy, it faces one fundamental freedom: the Speaker of the Malaysian Parliament may choose to reject its debate in the House. The Dewan Rakyat’s Standing Orders makes it discretionary for the speaker to allow a petition presented by ordinary citizens to be debated in Parliament. In the event that the Speaker allows the petition that the journalists will have prepared and obtained the necessary number of signatures, they will use the press media to lobby for support by the members of Parliament. In case the Speaker exercises his discretion by rejecting the petition, the journalist can pursue the avenue of assembling peacefully and without arms outside the Parliament buildings to protest the Speaker’s conduct. Article 10(2) (b) of the Federal Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to assembly peacefully and without arms. Therefore, as long as the assembly outside the Parliament buildings is peaceful and no individual is armed, the journalists have a considerable chance of compelling Parliament, and the Malay Government in general, to initiate the relevant measures that will address the problem.

In Malaysia, laws can only be made by Parliament, which parenthetically comprises of the Dewan Negara (Senate) and Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives). The legislative authority of the Malaysian Parliament is derived from Article 44 of the Federal Constitution. Ideally, with the exception of the “Money Bill” which has to originate from the House of Representatives, a Bill can arise from either the House of Representatives or the Senate for purposes of passage (Anwar 2009). Since the journalists want to use the avenue of Dewan Rakyat’s Standing Orders to file a petition to Parliament, the law making process schematic charts or diagrams for the enactment of a law that would help in mitigating the aftermath of the frequent floods in Cameron Highlands. Once the Speaker approves the petition to be debated, and allowed to go through the traditional law-making procedure, the petition will transform into a Bill. On consensus of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Bill is forwarded to Yang di-Pertuan Agong as provided under Article 66(3) of the Federal Constitution for purposes of assent. The assent Bill automatically becomes law, and in a situation where for any reasons the Yang di-Pertuan Agong fails to sign into law, by dint of Article 66(4) of the Federal Constitution, automatically becomes law on expiry of 30 days from the day the Bill was presented for assent.  Appendix I shows the law-making process schematic chart for the journalist’s effort to push for a law that would address the problem of frequent flooding in Cameron Highlands and interestingly, the law would as well in resolving the same challenges in other parts of the country that experience routine flooding.

The approach or path-process that the used by the journalists to advocate for the adoption of a policy that mitigate floods and eventually restore  water to Cameron Highlands as well as the whole of Malaysia can be described as a mix of popular initiative and the legislature. In this context, the popular initiative refers to the preparation of a petition and collection of signatures from the people by the journalist. It is through the popular initiative that the journalists will have manage to set the agenda for reforms in the way the Government manages flood incidences in the country. Moreover, the engagement of people in peaceful assembly without arms to demonstrate their displeasure on the Speaker’s refusal to allow the debate on the subject matter contained in the petition thereof can as well be described as popular initiative. In contrast, the ethical considerations that the journalists will adopt when campaigning for policy reforms include the use of messages that are not implicitly or explicitly defamatory in nature; and submitting to the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat a petition that has been duly signed by the proponents without undue influence or coercion.

Conclusion

Overall, it is clear from the preceding discourse that the media, particularly the press media, is crucial in influencing policy change as well as the development of relevant policies that focus on addressing the various challenges that the members of a society encounter in their routine lives. In Malaysia, the Federal Constitution has guaranteed the freedom of the speech, which also includes the freedom of the media and the press. However, this freedom does not extend to citizens defaming others or inciting the society into violence. Incidentally, the status of affairs following the regular floods in Cameron Highlands has shocked the country and resulted in both farmers and entrepreneur losing their livelihood. In this regard, journalists, as members of the community in the Cameron Highlands, have a responsibility to advocate for the development of a policy that would permanently resolve the problem. The journalists can address this through the use of a mix of popular initiative and legislative approach.

References

Anuar, M.K., 2007. Politics and the Media in Malaysia. Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies, 20(1), pp.25-47.

Anwar, Z., 2004. Islamisation and its impact on laws and the law making process in Malaysia. Warning Signs of Fundamentalism, p.74.

Azizuddin Mohd Sani, M., 2008. Freedom of speech and democracy in Malaysia. Asian Journal of Political Science, 16(1), pp.85-104.

Buckingham, D., 2013. Media education: Literacy, learning and contemporary culture. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

George, C., 2007. Media in Malaysia: Zone of contention. Democratization, 14(5), pp.893-910.

Khoo, K.B.T. and Loh, F., 2014. Democracy in Malaysia: discourses and practices. London, UK Routledge.

Masum, A. and Desa, M.R.M., 2014. Media and the Libel Law: The Malaysian Experience. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 155, pp.34-41.

McCombs, M., 2013. Setting the agenda: The mass media and public opinion. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Mohamad, M., 2008. Malaysia—democracy and the end of ethnic politics?. Australian Journal of International Affairs, 62(4), pp.441-459.

Moten, A.R., 2009. 2008 general elections in Malaysia: democracy at work. Japanese Journal of Political Science, 10(01), pp.21-42.

Norris, P. and Inglehart, R., 2010. Limits on press freedom and regime support. Public sentinel: News media and governance reform, pp.193-220.

Sani, M.A.M. and Zengeni, K.T., 2010, July. Democratisation in Malaysia: The impact of social media in the 2008 general election. In Paper was presented to the 18th Biennial Conference of the Asian Studies Association of Australia in Adelaide.

Tan, J.E. and Ibrahim, Z., 2008. Blogging and democratization in Malaysia: A new civil society in the making. SIRD.

Tapsell, R., 2013. The media freedom movement in Malaysia and the electoral authoritarian regime. Journal of contemporary Asia, 43(4), pp.613-635.

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