Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dr M said Press practises self-censorship

Dr M mocks local press for self-censorship

By Adib Zalkapli
KUALA LUMPUR, May 16 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad appeared to take a swipe at the local mainstream media for practising self-censorship, even during his time as prime minister.

The former prime minister said he had never issued directives to local editors.

"But they have the ability to gauge what the leadership wants," said Dr Mahathir to a gathering of bloggers here this evening.

He said that the mainstream press was full of praise for him when he was the prime minister.

"Sometimes they were wrong," he said.

He also alleged that such censorship became worse after he stepped down in late 2003.

"But this time it was more interesting because there was a supremo," said Dr Mahathir, referring to former New Straits Times group editor-in-chief Datuk Kalimullah Hassan whom he claimed was responsible in the censorship practice.

He alleged that the fifth prime minister Tun Abdullah Badawi was determined to erase his legacy.

Dr Mahathir claimed that as the prime minister he did not impose censorship on his predecessors.

"I never stopped Tunku Abdul Rahman from writing or stop Tun Hussein from saying what he wanted to say," he said.

He added that he had to resort to blogging last year after he was blacked out by the mainstream press.

"When I was cut off, I had to look elsewhere, somebody told me to look at blogging," he said.

Dr Mahathir said he initially hesitated because of the tedious process of reading and replying to the comments.

But he now considered his blog launched in May last a year a success after getting 19 million visitors a year later.

He hoped that the bloggers would introduce a code of ethics as an effort to encourage bloggers to publish only facts.

"Bloggers must have a sense of responsibility," he told reporters at a press conference later.

On the mainstream press, Dr Mahathir said they need to publish the truth in order to restore their credibility.

"I have to confess I have stopped reading the Straits Times," he said when asked which is his preferred mainstream newspaper.

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