This must be the longest wait ever for a general election in Malaysia, and it’s impossible to hold it five years after the March 8, 2008 elections.
This will also be an election that will test and assess the Malaysian media.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was realistic when he called it the “social media” elections, because most of what Malaysians know now come from online sources.
In effect, this year’s election is also a referendum on the kind of media that Malaysians want.
Do we want an untruthful media tied to political interests — online, print or television — or do we want a media that serves the interests of Malaysians?
Do we want a media that regurgitates without question or one that questions, inquires, checks facts and verifies before publishing or broadcasting news?
Do we want our news “vanilla”, in the parlance of the Internet, or do we want it coloured with bias and perception without it being labelled as such?
These questions might not be explicitly on the ballot when the elections are finally called but it will be on the mind of voters.
The ones who now already think twice before shelling out RM1.20 for the morning dailies or decide to waste an hour on prime-time news or just watch a television series or a downloaded video.
The Malaysian media is already on trial for many reasons in the court of public opinion, and some in the judicial courts.
This General Election 2013 will be the ultimate court and referendum on the Malaysian media.
It’s time to get back to the principles of journalism, of relevance and providing news that matters, accurately rather than spin and innuendoes or even outright false reporting.