Anwar Ibrahim, prime minister-in-waiting and de facto leader of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, has called on the Malaysian media to start doing its job and criticising the new Pakatan Harapan government.
New era of media freedom
This was after the liberal-leaning Pakatan coalition ousted the Barisan Nasional alliance at the May 9 election, effectively paving the way for this present new era of media freedom unseen in Malaysia before.
However, the media might be too caught up siding with Pakatan as it has sung its praises for weeks on end now, and have not grown used to being unshackled from its past, where they were made cheerleaders of the government of the day.
Do away with flattery
Anwar's liberal comments came on May 25, as he called on the press to do away with the practice of flattering government leaders by painting rosy stories about them.
He also urged the media to take seriously its role of providing checks and balances in the country.
“It is thanks to the media’s ‘ampu’ culture that leaders have become spoiled,” he said at a ceramah in Seberang Jaya.
"Ampu" translates to "ingratiate", or a form of curry favour.
Anwar also said: “In the current euphoria, all the media outlets are supporting Pakatan Harapan (PH). Once we have settled down, the media has the right to criticise both the federal and state governments of PH.”
Politicians start getting used to criticism
He said politicians in turn must accept the criticism instead of hitting out at the press.
Anwar said some examples of media flattering leaders in the past was in the way news outlets had falsely boasted about education and economy issues.
“We used to get news like this: Malaysia has the best leader in the world, the best economy in the world, the best education in the world, the best healthcare in the world. Agriculture, factories, and even the best pay in the world, too," he said.
“This is all nonsense and lies. We expect the media to air the people’s views, and the people should not be afraid to criticise."
"And leaders should not complain about the criticism like Umno leaders. They must be able to accept it."
No government role yet
Anwar has not taken up any government role, despite current prime minister Mahathir Mohamad's offer for him to come on board.
He declined so as to catch up with understanding governance in this new era, having been imprisoned the last few years.
Anwar had also said he would step aside for the time being to give the new prime minister time to fix the important issues in the country.
Anwar has indicated that he would tour the country and reconnect with his network internationally, as well as speak to the media about issues.