Opposition always like to complain that the mainstream media black out their news.
Why don’t you have your newspapers then?
I am not joking. They could have done it for the past 18 years when they ruled Kelantan, Terengganu and Sabah. They can do it now in Kelantan, Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor.
What’s the way out?
While newspapers fall under item 21 in the Federal List in the Constitution, Section 25 (1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 says:
“Nothing in this Act shall extend to the publication or making of any documents or periodical by or for the Federal or any State Government or any statutory body.”
In brief, you need not the intelligence for rocket science to understand this, you don’t need the publication permit or even printing presses license if you are printing a newspaper or magazine for a State Government.
In other words, if you enter an agreement with a state government to print newspaper for them with full editorial independence, you can anytime start a newspaper to rival NST, The Star, Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian, Sin Chew, Tamil Nesan, etc.
If the state government choose to give that authorization letter to anyone who want to publish a periodical – for a reasonable fee if it wishes to make some money – the Printing Presses and Publication Act is as good as repealed.
This fact (or loophole) was made known to PAS – as well as Keadilan and DAP – since 2006. PAS chose to do nothing but continued its complaint about the mainstream media every now and then.
Now we have four more opposition state governments, three are ran by DAP and Keadilan. They can give us free press now. It’s up to us whether or not to ask and up to them whether or not to give.
So, if you feel the press are controlled, stop bitching the BN’s federal government.
You have five state governments to go to now. After going Tamil, Malaysiakini should consider about going print. It’s time to test the imagination and commitment of our new ruling parties.