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Framing The Fight Against Terror: Order Versus Liberty in the Mainstream and Alternative Media
Unformatted Document Text:  ICA-6-10348 8 Civil rights The main difference between Malaysiakini’s and NST’s coverage was the prominence the former gave to the civil rights angle. It reported extensively the views of international and domestic human rights groups, namely Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Aliran – none of which was mentioned by NST. It carried Amnesty’s full country report, and a comment piece by the organization’s Asia Pacific development officer. Even when reporting news for which the government was the main source, Malaysiakini managed to incorporate the civil rights critique. For example, the Jan 5 news report on Mahathir’s statements ended with the sentence, “Penang-based NGO Aliran and opposition party DAP have today called for those arrested under ISA – which allows detention without trial – to be brought to court.” NST’s coverage the same day ignored Aliran and kept the DAP statement out of the page one story, relegating it to an inside page instead. Malaysiakini’s coverage also exposes significant omissions in NST’s reports of the habeas corpus court case. The website reported that the Shah Alam High Court was critical of the police, ruling that the police had shown “bad faith” by not allowing the detainee access to lawyers. The judge, according to Malaysiakini, “rained questions on the prosecution”: “ ‘Where did the police actually get this ‘god-sent’ right to take away his right to counsel? The government cannot just say that they can do so.’” Detainees’ voices Malaysiakini’s most significant contribution was perhaps its reporting of the detainees’ own points of view. Although the detainees had limited access to the media, some of them did secure public fora. One was a review panel hearing for alleged Al- Qaeda operative Yazid Sufaat, whose affidavit protesting his innocence was secured by Malaysiakini, but not reported by NST. Another was Suhakam’s public inquiry.

Authors: George, Cherian.
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background image
ICA-6-10348
8
Civil rights
The main difference between Malaysiakini’s and NST’s coverage was the
prominence the former gave to the civil rights angle. It reported extensively the views of
international and domestic human rights groups, namely Human Rights Watch, Amnesty
International, and Aliran – none of which was mentioned by NST. It carried Amnesty’s
full country report, and a comment piece by the organization’s Asia Pacific development
officer.
Even when reporting news for which the government was the main source,
Malaysiakini managed to incorporate the civil rights critique. For example, the Jan 5
news report on Mahathir’s statements ended with the sentence, “Penang-based NGO
Aliran and opposition party DAP have today called for those arrested under ISA – which
allows detention without trial – to be brought to court.” NST’s coverage the same day
ignored Aliran and kept the DAP statement out of the page one story, relegating it to an
inside page instead.
Malaysiakini’s coverage also exposes significant omissions in NST’s reports of
the habeas corpus court case. The website reported that the Shah Alam High Court was
critical of the police, ruling that the police had shown “bad faith” by not allowing the
detainee access to lawyers. The judge, according to Malaysiakini, “rained questions on
the prosecution”: “ ‘Where did the police actually get this ‘god-sent’ right to take away
his right to counsel? The government cannot just say that they can do so.’”
Detainees’ voices
Malaysiakini’s most significant contribution was perhaps its reporting of the
detainees’ own points of view. Although the detainees had limited access to the media,
some of them did secure public fora. One was a review panel hearing for alleged Al-
Qaeda operative Yazid Sufaat, whose affidavit protesting his innocence was secured by
Malaysiakini, but not reported by NST. Another was Suhakam’s public inquiry.


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