MALAYSIA – The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) calls on all broadcast media – especially Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM), Media Prima and Astro – as well as all print and online news portals, to provide information fair. and balanced media coverage for all political parties and independent candidates in the upcoming Malaysian 15th General Election (GE15).

The coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) seeking to reform the current electoral system by Malaysia, urged the caretaker government of Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to take the lead and ask RTM to play its role as the national broadcaster serving all Malaysians.

In a press release published by the BERSIH Steering Committee today (November 2), BERSIH reminds all media that as the fourth estate of democracy, they play a vital role in maintaining democracy.

“These are the transmitters of information likely to influence the choices of the 21.1 million Malaysians eligible to vote at the GE15 on November 19. They have a responsibility not only to provide accurate information, but also to provide fair access to all candidates in this election. “

BERSIH offers three types of programming for TV and radio broadcasters, namely:

  1. Party political broadcast

When all political parties have airtime to declare their election manifestos, either equally or according to the number of seats they contest, the main parties have more time but always ensure that all parties and independent candidates have time.

  1. Prime Minister-candidates debate

Although new to Malaysian politics, debates are not new to Malaysian society, where schools and universities have been holding them for a long time and it is part of the legislative process in Parliament. An aspiring prime minister must show Malaysians that he has the ability to vigorously debate important political issues and deal with important issues.

  1. Multi-stakeholder dialogue/debates

Where representatives of different parties and independents can sit together to discuss important issues in a civil manner.

BERSIH believes that such initiatives are not only informative for the voting public, but also foster a new culture of civility among politicians. Parties would also be required to field better qualified candidates who can better articulate and represent their parties.

For RTM and other public broadcasters to provide equitable airtime to political parties, BERSIH said this can be seen as a form of indirect public funding for parties, an integral part of political finance reform which is necessary for this country.

Najib and Anwar once debated live on national television

“Let GE15 be defined as the election that paved the way for greater democratic reforms by being the first where all political parties and independents have equal access to mass media,” the statement read.

Ahead of the announcement of the dissolution of the Malaysian parliament and GE2015, Astro Awani, one of Malaysia’s national broadcast media, broadcast and livestreamed a debate between opposition Prime Minister candidate Anwar Ibrahim and former Prime Minister Najib Razak on May 12, 2022.

The debate which was held in Malay touched on a wide range of national issues such as the Sapura Energy Bhd (SEB) crisis, the economy, governance and the way forward for the country.

Interim PM says no to proposed TV debates between PM candidates

Since the announcement of the dates of the GE2015 by the electoral commission, Anwar Ibrahim, also president of the PKR (People’s Justice Party), proposed to organize a televised debate on national policies between the candidates for the post of Prime Minister of the other parties running in the general election. election.

However, the keeper Prime Minister Ismail Yaacob rejected Anwar’s proposalclaiming that “debates were not part of Malaysia’s political culture”.

“If we debate, he (Anwar) will talk about his promises, (he will promise) the moon and the stars, so there is no need (to debate),” Ismail told Malaysian media at a press conference. press on October 25.

“I don’t think we need to have a debate, we are all busy in our respective fields, campaigning in our constituencies,” he said.

Anwar Ibrahim then ridiculed that he was incredulous to hear Ismail say that debates are not part of Malaysian political culture when they are encouraged in schools and by academics.

“In the past, the ulema (religious scholars) debated and had a healthy exchange of questions and answers encouraging differences of opinion. And what do we do in Parliament? Debate, of course. So, Ismail, when do you live?