Saturday, 12 May 2012

Conflict of Interest in the Malaysian Media

Very good article in The Edge Malaysia from R B Bhattacharjee "Media freedom is about ethical choices too". The first part is about Bersih 3.0 about which I won't comment since this is not a political blog (although the readers should be able to guess to whom my sympathy goes). The last four paragraphs are relevant:

"Undoubtedly, in the Malaysian context, where power is concentrated to a great extent within a small group that is in control of key institutions, the risk that the norms of democratic choice may be ignored is ever present as shown by the mediocre record of government accountability to date. In such circumstances, the people will put much hope in the workings of an unfettered media as a fundamental pillar of democracy.

But as the events at Bersih 3.0 testify, the mainstream media, which is largely controlled by the political parties of the ruling coalition or its allies, suffers from a conflict of interest that renders it unable to meet the people’s democratic aspirations.

No matter, because the Internet-enabled public at least has long switched over to alternative news sources for coverage of events that do not favour the ruling elite. Of course, the people still have many other uses for the mainstream media, but not some of the most pressing issues of public interest.

In these times, which form a watershed in national affairs, some members of the media may be conflicted about balancing ethical choices, as it may not always be clear who they should serve – their paymasters, audiences or the wider society. The issue really is not about laws that restrict media freedom but whether the media can free itself from the mental strictures that keep them away from fair and accurate reporting."

A small group in control of key institutions, mediocre record of government accountability, many conflicts of interest (for instance the close ties between politics and business), disappointing and biased reporting by the mainstream media: these are all highly recognizable observations from a Corporate Governance point of view.


  1. while it may be agreeable that other sources of information than those controlled by the government give an alternative view on a particular matter, however, dont you think these media can also be influenced by the opposing political parties as well?

    such views may also be bias.

    either way, using our own discretion and rational thoughts are highly encouraged at all times..

  2. I admit that they are biassed to a certain extent, but I think it is only normal, as a counter weight to the government controlled print media.