KUALA LUMPUR: Media organisations have been urged to be more transparent regarding their ownership and funding, particularly those involving political parties and individuals, according to new report.
A post-14th General Election (GE14) report by Pemantau, released today, urged media organisations to make public, information regarding their ownership and funding, claiming it would provide some improvement to ensure unbiased media coverage.
This is one of many recommendations made by the group, which was established by electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 to oversee the elections.
Pemantau alleged that ownership of media outlets by political parties remained a factor during GE14, citing several BN-owned media agencies.
These included mainstream newspapers owned by either Umno or MCA and government-run television and radio stations.
“This had given overwhelmingly positive coverage to the ruling coalition at the time. The controls of media freedom inevitably had a chilling effect on coverage of the election,” it stated.
In a recommendation to the federal government, Pemantau urged Pakatan Harapan to abolish licensing for print media in order to remove government controls on them and therefore prevent interference in political coverage.
The report also recommended that some laws be amended in order to promote a clean and transparent election, including criminalising the use of government resources for political purposes.
It also proposed for the strengthening of corruption laws to prevent political parties from 'gift-giving' after the dissolution of parliament and implementing a fixed election date, similar to the United Kingdom's model.
Among other recommendations:
– for the government to establish a tribunal to remove the current Election Commission (EC) for breaching the code of ethics;
– amending the EC Act to prevent hidden interference by the government in the work of the commission;
– enacting a Political Parties Act to regulate the financing of political parties and candidates;
– for the EC to submit a report on GE14, which will include recommendations, to Parliament.
Meanwhile, Bersih 2.0 acting chairman Shahrul Aman Mohd Saari said the Pemantau report would be submitted to the government to help improve the election process, and that a copy would also be given to each MP in Parliament next week.