Side Views

The colour of freedom — Tay Tian Yan

May 05, 2012

MAY 5 — I rushed to the mall to get a black shirt just in time before it closed after I finished my work last night.

To be frank, mysterious black has never been my favourite colour.

The sales assistant asked me what shade of black I was looking for. There are actually a variety of shades for black: greyish black, blue black, polar black and Titanic black.

I told her: “The darkest black.”

On May 3, black is not only mysterious, it also denotes freedom.

I was a little sceptical walking out of the mall, not because I would not be black enough or anything, but I just wondered how many would be dressed in black on the following day. If I were the only piece of charcoal in the midst of glaring colours, I would most definitely be out of place.

But when I entered my office the second morning, I saw a sea of black, not only the reporters and editors, but also colleagues from business promotion, accounts, marketing and other departments. Even the cafeteria boss and his wife were “like-coloured.”

I was touched. At least on this day everyone felt the same and shared the same aspiration.

Black shirts and yellow ribbons prove that we are still working hard and not giving up hope. This also serves to inform the public that press freedom is more than just a matter of journalists or a media company, but that of everyone living in this country.

It is part and parcel of the democratic society which involves not only the government, Parliament, the judicial system, but also the media. Without a just and free press, the democratic system will very soon collapse in the absence of transparency and supervision.

While journalists are required to act professionally and diligently, that alone is never sufficient for the media to advance and accomplish its philosophies of justice and freedom.

It also requires more tolerance and encouragement on the part of ruling and opposition parties, as well as care and fervent participation from the masses.

After last Saturday’s rally, many people have come to realise the threats and pressure encountered by the media. That said, there is still a group of people who take delight in seeing the predicament of media operators.

Someone said: “The reporters should now learn a lesson from the beating so that they would turn to support us.”

Another echoed: “What big deal is that? There are many other protestors who got beaten up!”

People in government said: “Reporters are not the only victims. Look at what happened to our cops!”

When the reporters arrived at the scene of rally, they were neither supporting this side or the other. All that they had to do was to broadcast the true situation to the public.

If protestors are brutally treated by the police, these reporters would register what actually took place; and when some mobsters (not peaceful demonstrators) assaulted the cops, the same would get recorded in their cameras.

We journalists are not standing on any side. We are standing on the side of truth. If the police have not resorted to violence in quelling the protestors, they need not fear the pictures and words of these reporters.

The truth needs to be transmitted across; society needs transparency and readers need the true stories. All these would only materialise if press freedom is assured.

If you think press freedom has absolutely nothing to do with you, think again! —

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.