#MYMediaMatters campaign

Wan Noor Hayati Wan Alias is an award winning journalist and union activist who writes for a number of publications including the Malaysia Gazette. She takes an honest look at the role of journalists, publishers and government in this interview that is part of the #MYMediaMatters campaign.

1. What does it mean to be a journalist in Malaysia? 

It means that I am working to make the country better through my writings, to be the voice of the people and the sight of the government. It means that I stand in the middle, not choosing sides, that I am after the truth and the truth only. It means that I will write without bias, without favouring anybody and stand as the pillar of the future.

2. Do you see Media Freedom in Malaysia moving forward?

There is a glimpse of tolerance and trust in the current government. The people elected to office have had a good track record and up to this point, they have done their job remarkably well especially in these trying times. I see a glimpse of what we all could be, of where it would bring us, so yes, I can say that we will get there in the not so distant future. I am working for it and I'm sure my colleagues are too.

3.  What can we do to be better?

Wow, this is a challenging question. The answer to that resides in ourselves as individuals. Surely there are things that we lack and we know of it but are too scared to face. Well, the first step is to acknowledge it, and move together with our weaknesses. In my case, I do not think my words are being heard enough nor are they important enough for people to take note of it. As such, as a journalist I'll work towards making my voice heard and be more consistent with quality articles. Be digitally minded and always working to transform oneself for good.

4.  What can we do to ensure media freedom?

As I've stated above, our first step is to acknowledge that the media is recognised as not being important enough. In most countries we are simply a tool to keep up with the times, not as a centre of daily knowledge that can benefit the whole society. Some of us take our jobs and pride as journalists for granted. There is no desire to move forward, only to live pay check to pay check. It starts from below. And for government they have to acknowledge us as watchdogs and not the hunting dog to please anyone.

Then we move up to the producers, the companies, and how they treat journalism. They need to see journalism as an important factor to guide people, and then gradually these perceptions start to change for the better. As journalists we would better understand what cements our existence. Our employers should treat us better, because of the important role we play. This motivation and protection will drive us to serve as the masses and be a source that the government can trust.

Finally comes the government. The relationship goes both ways. As long as we have great leaders working together with us, nothing will be impossible. The main reason why we do not have press freedom is because of the corrupt individuals sitting on their throne of power. Authorities try to pressure us, limit us and pull us away from the things we are supposed to do. Greater communication and understanding from both sides will ensure benefits not just for us, but for the country we serve.

The #MYMediaMatters campaign is part of a multi-year project, Strengthening Malaysia’s Media for Change, supported by the European Union. For details please see the IFJ project page.

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