There is much truth in the saying democracy is impossible without a free press. -- NSTP Archive

CALL it a determinedly delirious desire for things political across the causeway. A docile press can’t help but do that. Perhaps there is little at home to report or analyse. Singapore time seldom passes without some column inches of transition tale.

Certainly, there is a transition issue. But this is for the political parties within the Pakatan Harapan coalition to sort out. To imply political instability is more than naughty newspapering. Truth be told, Malaysia has long passed the test of political volatility.

Yes, there was an intermission of sorts when the Barisan Nasional government came down hard on Malaysian media, muzzling them with the threat of fake news law. But that is a tale from the annals of recent history.

Unlike the submissive Singapore press, the Malaysian media do publish without perishing. The 2018 World Press Freedom Index reflects this. Malaysia may not be in the global league but it comes out tops in Southeast Asia. Singapore is ranked a distant seventh.

This notwithstanding, Singapore has its marvellous side. It makes the world’s table of this and that. Certainly, there is much we can learn from Singapore. It is No. 1 in the area of order and security.

It has the largest publicly-owned port in the world. Singapore’s universities are in the big leagues, too. The list, as they say, goes on. But you get the point.

Malaysia is not without its marvellous side either. And it is there for Singapore’s learning. How to have a free press is one. As The Economist pointed out in its article on press freedom on June 23 last year, cross-country studies had shown a “strong and consistent associations between unfettered media, vibrant democracies and limited corruption”.

There is much truth in the saying democracy is impossible without a free press. Little wonder the mass media is called the fourth branch of the government. Thomas Jefferson was right when he said: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter.”

Politicians who want to do a good job will do well to help promote press freedom. Here may be an opportunity for the media of neighbours Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia to prod each other towards the liberation press freedom promises. Having upped journalism in free Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, we can then pen the regional or even the global story.

There is something else that needs lots of working. Not just for table-topping Singapore. But Malaysia too. Out of 211 in the Fifa football ranking, Malaysia is perched embarrassingly at 159 while Singapore is, much to its chagrin, two rungs below at 162.

Age group matches will not improve ranking, but first Under 15 and now Under 18, a pattern is developing for Malaysia. Good football doesn’t happen if it is so close to the bottom of the Fifa table. Going the way of artificial pitch isn’t helping.

Artificial turf may be the new generation stuff, but it is not the real thing. Repurposed tyres are not only not good for football; they are not good for the environment. Blame it on American baseball, the first professional sport to go synthetic.

Grass or rumput as we call it here and in the south, is the DNA of great football. Keep off the turf, we say.

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