Media Control In Malaysia

Mainstream media in Malaysia is mainly owned by political parties and heavily regulated by government. Censorship is applied to control media content to avoid unnecessary disturbance to the “national” security.

Privatization of the media is the very 1st step of the conspiracy to control media in Malaysia. One of the initial effort to transfer ownership of the media from government to the private sector involved privatization of TV3. TV3 was licensed in 1983 to Sistem Televisyen (M) Berhad (STMB). Forty-percent of the STMB stock was held by the Fleet Group, which is UMNO’s holding company, and thus the Fleet Group, with more stock ownership than any other single entity, had the right to select the remaining ownership partners. TV3 in turn owns MEGA-TV, a MMDS “cable” provider.

In 1994 a television broadcast license was issued to Melewar Corporation and Utusan Malayu (M) Berhad to operate Metrovision. Tunku Abdullah, who is widely known to be a close associate of former Prime Minister Mahathir, controls Melewar. By 1999 Metrovision was struggling and was “temporarily” off-air by later that year and during early 2000. Metrovision has now ceased broadcasting.

Another reputed close associate of former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir, Ananda Krishnan, was issued a license in 1995 to operate MEASAT. MEASAT in turn launched ASTRO, Malaysia’s digital direct broadcast satellite service. Krishnan is evidently the beneficiary of other “favors” resulting from his ties to Mahathir. With an estimated net worth of over $250-million (U.S.), Krishnan is a long-time member of the board of the Bank Negara and operates Malaysia’s “Sports Toto” (owned by Berjaya Group currently).

Natseven TV Sdn Bhd (NTV7), Malaysia’s most recent entry into the privately owned free-to-air television market, was licensed in 1998. Datuk (Dr.) Effendi Norwawi the Chairman of ENCORP group, which owns NTV7, serves as the Chairman of NTV7. Norwawi was also serving as the Minister of Agriculture (Malaysian Ministry of Agriculture, 2002).

Malaysia’s privately owned FM stations exhibit similar ownership patterns as television, and are largely controlled by Ananda Krishnan. Five of the seven stations are owned by Airtime Management and Programming Sdn. Bhd. (AMP). AMP additionally operates four “FM” services that are available only via digital direct broadcast satellite (ASTRO). AMP is also a division of Krishnan’s ASTRO. No to forget, Ananda Krishnan also owns Maxis Communications Berhad now.

The political parties and their investment companies control the major newspapers in Malaysia. The Utusan Melayu Group publishes 3 Malay language dailies and has strong ties to UMNO (United Malays National Organisation). It also owns New Straits Times with the Fleet Investment Group. In addition, The Star is owned by Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) under the name of Star Publication (M) Berhad. Star Publication also own several radio stations, Red FM, 988, and SuriaFM. MCA also owns Chinese newspapers like Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press.

According to Aliran , the journal of social reform, these connections reveal the biases of the Malaysian media. During the 1995 general elections, the daily newspapers carried government advertisements in full but accepted only partial advertisements from oppositional parties. Some believe that newspaper owners do not allow new entrants into industry despite the fact that they may add to the public good. What the imprisoned former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar called an "informed citizenry through a contest of ideas," is as of 2002 as elusive as ever in Malaysia.

This article has not revealed all the media controlled by political parties, there are more. They are not the country, they are not the government, they are merely politicians.

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