Citizen Nades - We report the news

THESE are not good days for journalists and the profession. Many of them have come under attack, in some cases physically. In most instances, the verbal attacks have been laced with colourful language.

Last week, I was on the receiving end of a barrage of choice words, not from the ones wearing red or yellow, but from like-minded friends, who accused the media of encouraging violence by continuing to cover activities of what he referred to as "red-shirted thugs".

"You guys give them coverage for every move they make – legal and illegal. How could you even stoop as low as to attend a press conference in a toilet? You promote them to sensationalise and sell your newspapers. If you stop publicising their rotten activities, they will fade away," said a friend as a group of us chatted over dinner.

First, I told them, that theSun is not sold and our distribution is fixed. Sensationalism, if it exists as claimed, does not mean we will be printing extra copies for circulation.

My argument was simple: The media covers everything – the good, the bad and even the ugly. We are purveyors of news – happy or sad. We can be judgmental or partial in our personal views but when it comes to reporting the news, the news organisation is expected to be unbiased and neutral.

Having said that, I got the message that what the Reds did or the Yellows would do are newsworthy and the public have a right to read and understand their "fight". After all, aren't newspapers supposed to inform, educate and entertain their readers?

Didn't the discerning public understand the mentality and the herd culture of the leader AFTER reading media reports? Weren't you as a reader informed of their intentions – right or wrong – after reading our reports on their activities?

The right for any individual to express an opinion is enshrined in our constitution. The same applies for the gathering of a peaceful assembly. However, these are governed by many pieces of legislation including causing physical and verbal harm.

If that happens as it already has, shouldn't it be our duty as journalists to report what happened and what we saw, heard and witnessed? And if action is not taken, wouldn't it be in everyone's interest that we remind the authorities of their responsibility to act?

So the issue of "blacking out" news as some opined, is not the answer. Wouldn't we then be accused of self-censorship and deciding what our readers ought to know?

Surely, is this not the free press that we are all yearning for? For this theme to be taken to its fullest form, we cannot have selective reporting, limited coverage or biased writing or a combination of any of the three.

The country continues to win "accolades" for all the wrong reasons. This time, it has overtaken Singapore as the hub for sports match-fixing in Southeast Asia following a crackdown in the city-state.

"Malaysia is the epicentre of trade for Southeast Asia," Chris Eaton, an independent industry consultant and FIFA's former security chief told an international conference on illicit gambling last week.

Wouldn't that also be deemed an entry into the record books as Malaysians continue to be obsessed with the first, the longest, the biggest, the fastest and the highest?

A Malaysian already holds the dubious distinction of being the first to be convicted in an English court for disconnecting supply to the floodlights at the Charlton Athletic Stadium years ago.

English league footballers John Fashanu and Bruce Grobbelaar were charged with match-fixing alongside yet another Malaysian – Lim Heng Suan. They were acquitted after a lengthy trial.

Our police action seems to be deep-rooted when there are international football events such as the European Cup or the World Cup. During the Brazilian edition of the latter in 2014, police arrested more than 200 people in a massive crackdown. After that, there was a lull.

It was during the same period that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) arrested eight people from Asia including a father-and-son team from Malaysia. Phua Wei Seng and his son Wai Kit were arrested over suspicion that they were members of an organised crime gang. However, a Nevada court dismissed the criminal case against them.

Now, we are back as the illegal gambling capital of the Far East.

R. Nadeswaran continues to hold the candle for freedom of expression and agrees that everyone has a right to disagree with his views. Comments: citizen-nades@thesundaily.com