May is Media Freedom Month, declares Pewaju, Suaram Penang, and Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), which will be hosting a series of activities in Penang in support of media freedom.
The activities are to commemorate International World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) which falls on May 3. WPFD is meant to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, defend media independence and honour journalists and media personnel who have died while exercising their duties.
Media Freedom Month in Penang hopes to inform the public on violations of press freedom, whether it is through government or self-censorship; laws that curb freedom of expression; jailing of outspoken writers; or the intimidation, detainment, harassment, and even murder of journalists.
This May, we ask the public to support independent media, reclaim mainstream media, assess Malaysia’s level of press freedom, and raise awareness on violations of freedom of expression and press freedom by taking part in our events.
1. Yellow ribbon campaign
Show your support for World Press Freedom Day in Penang by picking up a commemorative yellow ribbon, the symbol of press freedom in Malaysia. Starting May 3 we will be distributing the campaign ribbons at all our events. Wear them proud and show your support for press/media freedom!
2. Freeze mob in shopping complexes
Freeze…for WPFD Penang! Come out and watch pedestrians puzzle over our frozen flash mobs at Prangin Mall and Gurney Plaza. You can’t miss them – they’ll be the ones holding WPFD posters to raise awareness about press and media freedom. After ‘defrosting,’ the flash mobers will be distributing yellow ribbons, badges, stickers, and leaflets about our cause.
Catch our freeze mobs on Friday May 13 at:
6.50pm: Prangin Mall near ground floor stage
8pm: Gurney Plaza near ground floor stage and in front of GSC cinema
3. Drama in Speakers’ Square
Pewaju and supporters of Suaram Penang will be conducting a short drama…..
When: Sunday May 15
Where: Speakers’ Square
4. “Nothing But the Truth” Movie Screening
Hanchiang College Lecture Hall will be screening the 2008 film “Nothing But the Truth,” starring Kate Beckinsale and Matt Dillon. The movie revolves around hard-hitting reporter, Rachel Armstrong, who is jailed after refusing to divulge her source in a story that exposes a CIA covert operation.
There will be a post-screening discussion on the themes of journalists’ rights, freedom of information, protection of sources, and the debate on whether national security outweighs the public interest.
When: Thursday May 19
Where: Hanchiang College Lecture Hall
5. Exhibition on Media Freedom
We will be hosting an exhibition on media freedom on Komtar Walk on Saturday and Sunday.
See a visual display of issues surrounding media freedom, including mainstream media clippings of Najib vs. Anwar and compare what kinds of pictures are published about the two political leaders.
Public participation is most welcome as members will be asking the audience to write down their opinions on press freedom in Malaysia: What’s missing in the news? What is there too much of in the news? What does the media mean to you?
When: Friday May 20 & Saturday May 21
Where: Komtar Walk
6. Forum on Media and Ethnicity: Overcoming the Challenges
The CIJ will be conducting a public forum on the portrayal of ethnicity in the media and how it affects our perception of race and ethnicity in Malaysia. The forum will be looked at from the point of view of working journalists, such as former Utusan senior journalist and National Union of Journalists (NUJ) President, Ha’ta Wahari. Wahari was recently sacked from his job at Utusan after he openly criticized the senior editors for publishing racial rhetoric. Panellist Dr Nge is well versed on the topic and has hosted trainings on ethnicity and race in the past. There will be an open discussion at the end.
When: Saturday May 21
Where: Hanchiang College
Panellists: Himanshu Bhatt (senior Penang-based journalist), Dr Carmen Nge (academic and ethnicity trainer), and Ha’ta Wahari (NUJ President).
7. Drama in Speakers’ Square
Want a good laugh and learn more about freedom of information (FOI)? FOI advocates will be putting on a series of short comedy skits to educate the public on the basic principles of freedom of information. FOI is critical in a democratic society as it promotes good governance, accountability, and government transparency.
Need even more reasons to come? Penang is set to table its very own FOI law, following in the footsteps of Selangor. Educate yourself by learning more about what principles are needed in a strong FOI law.
When: May 22
Where: Speakers’ Square
For more information, please contact Pewaju (012-9805723), Suaram Penang (012-7583779)and CIJ (016-379 5901)