Ramesh and the Red Pencil

Ramesh is a journalist working for The Heat. The recent suspension by the Home Ministry towards his company has now put the poor man, with two kids and a wife (along with two cars, if you remember the previous status I posted a month back) in dilemma.

Worst blow; school is about to begin in two weeks. With the kids hoping their father would purchase brand new school uniforms, shoes, brand new bags, and not to mention majority of the money has to be spent on school text books, note books and stationary, Ramesh is in a deep dark rabbit hole.

Now talks of toll prices to be raised are in place. Recent hike for properties in KL and sugar subsidy cuts has cast a huge hole in Ramesh’s pocket.

His wife, Shalini, being a woman, is constantly asking him what is to happen to his job. His relatives and in-laws prod the same question whenever he visits them during the weekends. His friends ask the same question during their late night mamak meet up.

Six months ago, after much chiding from the same friends and even random people he met on the streets, Ramesh decided to quit The Star and join The Heat.

He had enough of laymen constantly putting the blame on him for the stance the paper took. Many netizens constantly mocked his articles online.

“Why blame me? I’m just doing my job.” He constantly asked them. He even took the pains to explain to them that ultimately, it was not his decision for such silly news articles to be written in the papers. The scare ad tactics that appeared a few weeks prior to elections, even that, he was blamed for.

“You journalists are idiots.” People would say.

“If I were you, I’ll quit The Star and join some other media company that is not biased.”

“The Star, government paper. No wonder lah.”

Easy for them to say. Harder for Ramesh to decide.

Opposition politicians and party members constantly heckled him whenever he covered their event.

“Apa you akan tulis? You dari Star? Ahh confirm berita buruk nih. Mesti spin nih.” The would say.

When elections ended, and after much thinking, Ramesh decided to leave The Star, leave the bonuses he used to enjoy, and perform at The Heat, where despite the low salary, he was happy doing his job. He had the free will to write about things that mattered; the real news, delivering it as it is for the people and not the other way around.

But now, when the paper has been suspended, here was Ramesh, sitting at the mamak on his iPhone at 1.49am, unable to sleep. He sips on his Teh Tarik worriedly. And he asks;

Where were the same people who once upon a time asked him to leave his job?

Where were the same people – the Malaysian public – whom Ramesh constantly had in mind whenever he wrote news stories?

Where were those, who scorned, heckled, mocked and even advised him to leave The Star?

Malaysians, where are you, when tons of journalists like my friends and me from the mass and alternative media are demanding for the freedom of Malaysian press?

You had your say about us. You had your time to scorn, mock, ridicule and even insult. And now, when we stand and demand for Freedom of Press, many are still silent.

If Ramesh can leave his old job at The Star and join his now suspended news company, The Heat, why can’t you, as the public, support us journalists in this struggle?

If you truly care about a change in the country, I plead to you, let’s start from the Media first.

Why Freedom of Press is needed in Malaysia:

1) Less bullshit, more facts.

2) Readers will be able to read the good, bad and ugly side of all political parties and figures.

3) If implemented, political parties (both) will be working harder to not screw up as their dirty deeds will be reported, ultimately good for us, the people.

4) The thing is, I believe the reason BN didn’t do well was partly because of this. Malaysians are no longer stupid as they can see through lies now. Insulting their intelligence by reporting propaganda laced news articles will only bring further backlash to the parties involved. Good example; MCA’s scare ad tactics in the Star.

5) As journalists, we will have more work to do (which means, better experience), we’ll be well respected, and we will be more than willing to report both sides of the story.

6) Implementing Freedom of Press is a win-win situation for everyone. Political parties working harder, journalists respected, readers knowing the truth. In the end, everyone wins.

Support Geramm. Support #theheat and join us to demand for Media Freedom! Join the “Red Pencil” protest on Jan 4 at Downtown KL.


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