Press laws to be amended

30 Jul, '03

With the furore that the amended press laws (number 47 of 2002) has caused, and this snide attack by the Minister of Information, the government now will amend the press laws somewhat, but in a stunted way. The direct tie-up between the press law and criminal law will be removed, but that does not remove the jail threat in some occasions of the newly amended law. Further it seems that although in the previous amendments the jail terms are stated, in one part of the new amendments it is unspecified!

Another very threatening thing that these new amendments carry is the separation between the various kinds of media, so the press is different from radio, television and the web! Aren’t all of these essentially the same? Aren’t they all used to air views? I have to get my hands on the full text to try to see what it actually contains now. As far as I know it has not been published yet as it is still awaiting government final approval.

In the same vein, the Prime Minister held a meeting with the 4 editors of the national newspapers yesterday, you can read the comment by Anwar Abdulrahman here, but one thing that raised my eye-brows from the report is:

Prime Minister: “The whole world today is in a big marketing race and irresponsible criticism or coverage will damage the enormous efforts that the government is initiating to bring more projects, which will bring benefits in the form of job opportunities for Bahrain’s people.

“I wish to see the Press carrying the same responsibility, as a team, to promote Bahrain in the eyes of would-be investors.

“We are all servants of our societies, no matter how high or humble our rank is. Therefore, I see that the Press should take the utmost care before anything goes to print, to check and double check all sides of a report and to handle it constructively, away from the sensationalisation of news.

“This might be about a traffic violation, such as speeding, or it might be about petty theft or robbery – in the end it stains the name of this country.

“Neither we, nor the rest of the world, are living in an ideal society, but we should all unite our efforts in giving this country its rightful image.

“Truly, I believe in the freedom of the Press, because a free Press can erase and eradicate fear from its society.

“But this freedom should not be transformed into making others horrified, but be a comforting source, to highlight the many positive sides to life in this country.

“The Press should have the awareness and professional ethics to understand that not all that is said is publishable.

“The pen is a powerful tool, it can be constructive, or destructive. It can harm, or heal.

“As a citizen, talking to fellow citizens, let us be generous with the truth.”

There is still that thing.. the thing that suggests that we are better than others, or more appropriately encouraging us the “hide” the unsavory side of our existence, that we really don’t have anything “bad” in the “Bahraini Character”. Why? I believe that we are not better than others, we certainly don’t have any bragging rights compared with other peoples and nations on Earth. We don’t have bragging rights when compared to India, China and various other countries in the world.

So why not wash the dirty laundry in public as long as the end-result is that we clean up our act? So we shouldn’t talk about the continuing corruption because we pretend that we don’t have corrupt people in all walks of life? We shouldn’t talk about a 60 year old man raping a couple of boys of 8 and 9 because we really don’t have pedophiles? We shouldn’t talk about thieves? Crimes? Or even constructively criticize the government because it is way beyond criticism? How about abuse of power? It doesn’t happen?

My humble advice: don’t restrict personal freedoms, separate state from religion, don’t restrict the press, remove the Ministry of Information, start a “press complaints commission”, and don’t try to bend everything to just “show” others that we are “good”.

The more we expose the bad, the more people will think twice about doing anything bad. Sweep these things under the carpet and continue to believe that we are oh so good and you’re waiting for a calamity.

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Comments (1)

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  1. anonymous says:

    Press laws to be amended

    Im glad im not the only one who reads orwell


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