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Malaysia TV Producer Resigns Over Censorship Claim

A political talk show producer has resigned from one of Malaysia’s main television stations, claiming Tuesday his superiors censored him in an apparent attempt to favor the government.

The resignation bolsters demands by social activists for more freedom of reporting in the mainstream media, which are often perceived to be biased against opposition groups because most newspapers and TV stations are owned or closely linked to parties in the ruling coalition.

Joshua Wong, a producer who has worked at the private station NTV7 for seven years, said he quit in late April after his managers repeatedly imposed restrictions on his Chinese-language talk show.

Wong claimed he was barred from inviting an opposition member of Parliament to speak on the government’s current economic reforms. He said he was also instructed not to include any discussion of campaigning for a recent legislature election that was intensely fought between Prime Minister Najib Razak’s ruling coalition and an opposition alliance.

“It’s very difficult to compromise this time,” Wong told The Associated Press. “If we continue to keep silent … this thing (will) happen again and again.”

An NTV7 spokeswoman said the station treated it as a “normal resignation.” She declined to comment further.

The station is owned by Media Prima Bhd., a media group which runs other private TV stations and one of Malaysia’s largest publishing groups. It is widely believed to have close ties to officials in Najib’s ruling United Malays National Organization.

Wong’s one-hour weekly show caters to the ethnic Chinese minority, who make up about a quarter of Malaysia’s 28 million people. Najib’s administration has suffered a slide in support among Chinese because of complaints that the ethnic Malay Muslim-dominated government discriminates against minorities by maintaining an affirmative action program for Malays.

Wong is known for his investigative documentaries on such topics as alleged trafficking of refugees.

Malaysia’s Center for Independent Journalism praised Wong for speaking up against alleged political censorship.

“Self-censorship is usually a shushed-up matter in newsrooms, and journalists affected are seldom inclined to expose them for fear of affecting their rice bowl in view of the harsh laws against media,” the advocacy group said.

Mainstream media need government licenses to operate, which critics say is an unfair restriction to ensure that newspapers and TV stations show flattering reports on the government.

Source : AFP

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