| Editorial | 11 Aug 2016 | Asia Samachar |
Some quarters believe freedom of expression should be unfettered. Others, including nation states and civil societies, believe this principle must be tempered with to ensure that information is shared in a responsible way.
Asia Samachar upholds the freedom of expression but we practise this cautiously so as to provide its readers maximum benefit.
As editors, the primary duties are to disseminate news and views on various happenings and issues in the Sikh community.
The agenda of Asia Samachar — agenda carrying the meaning ‘objective’ — is to be a platform for the Sikh community in this region, and beyond.
The burden of duty of editors, be it print, broadcast or online, is not light. As editors, it is our task to ensure that this news portal carries news and opinions that will enrich readers.
But this is done with several rules in place. When writing news, we remind ourselves and our writers to observe the basic ABCs of journalism. A for accuracy. B for Balance. C for clarity.
With these rules in place, Asia Samachar has operated to fill a vacuum felt by many Sikhs in countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and other Asean nations. Since its inception, Asia Samachar team has strived to become a medium of expression, information and news.
It is with the support of the Sikhs that Asia Samachar has emerged as a player in filling up the role of communicator and disseminator.
At the same time, Asia Samachar has been playing an added role: to push for greater communication among the various segments in the Sikh community. It has offered itself as a medium for Sikhs to discuss issues within the community in a cogent, cohesive and respectful way.
The reality is this: it is often a treacherous path for editors who want to allow their medium to become an open medium for the community they serve. As editors of Asia Samachar, this is not an exception.
Issues, because of their fluid nature, can get blown out of proportion or treated as nothing more than a storm in a tea cup. And most of the time how an issue is to be treated can be influenced by the mood of the readers. How they react or respond plays an important role.
It is not the work of editors to turn an issue into what it is not. The duty as an editor calls us to allow a healthy discussion to take place on our platform.
And in so doing, we are obliged to make sure that the principle of ‘hear the other side’ is maintained at all times.
Nevertheless, going beyond that, we also play the role as moderators when members of the community begin to provide their feedback.
We have to make sure that arguments do not degenerate into a farce. We strive to avoid readers from hurling insults, promote labelling and utter defamatory statements.
Like editors of any publication, we have the right to exercise discretion to ensure that discussions on any issue, even the most sensitive, is done in most civil manner.
Having said that, as editors, we have to face the risk of being admonished, sanctioned, criticised, labelled and even boycotted for doing our job.
Dasam Granth Issue
In the recent spate concerning Dasam Granth, there have been calls for the Asia Samachar to be boycotted.
Various allegations had been thrown at the editor and his team. It makes us reflect on these questions: What are our principles? What do we, as custodians of the Asia Samachar, stand for?
The question uppermost on any editor’s mind under such a circumstance would be: “Shall I stop the discussion because it is inviting the wrath of a segment of the community?”
“Is the call for boycott an over-reaction? Did I give the various parties the space to respond? Did I exercise a level of impartiality in this issue?”
There are many unpleasant things happening in our lives and around us. How do we choose to deal with these unpleasant circumstances?
The generally accepted advice is to step back a little and diagnose the circumstances and then to choose an appropriate response to the unpleasantness.
In the issue of Dasam Granth discussion, we believe the best move forward is to allow for mature discussion. The calls for boycott does not put an end to the issue.
Let us state our stand. We are clear. There is no backing off. This is a platform that we have created for the bigger benefit of the society. We owe it to our personal conviction and principles that the door is not closed.
We will not be cowered by such calls for if we succumb now, we would be forced to do it again in future.
But here’s the deal: this platform is open to all. And we give an assurance that we will give the opportunity to all sides to present their views provided that the basic rules are adhered to.
Now you state them.
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]
The God of Dasam Granth – Part One (Asia Samachar, 9 Aug 2016)
Dasam Granth Debate: The double edged sword (Asia Samachar, 4 Aug 2016)
SGGS-DG Discourse: Another stumbling block towards Ekta of the Sikh panth? (Asia Samachar, 4 Aug 2016)
Sikh council tells Malaysian gurdwaras not to permit Dasam Granth preaching (Asia Samachar, 3 Aug 2016)
MGC: Dasam Granth video clips not a ‘directive’ (Asia Samachar, 3 Aug 2016)
Dasam Granth video directive ignites debate in Malaysia (Asia Samachar, 1 Aug 2016)
Dasam Granth: Twisting Bones Till They Snap (Asia Samachar, 30 June 2016)
‘One Granth One Panth’ call from Global Sikh Council – Asia Samachar (Asia Samachar, 11 April 2016)
Are our Gurdwaras Dysfunctional? The Assessment. (Asia Samachar, 9 Jan 2016)
One gurpurab, two dates. Why the confusion? (Asia Samachar, 5 Jan 2016)
Lessons for the Task Force (Asia Samachar, 14 Dec 2015)
JAGIR: MGC managing granthi entry, standardising maryada at gurdwaras (Asia Samachar, 19 Nov 2015)
Sarbat Khalsa at Chabba historic, but may have been hijacked (Asia Samachar, 11 Nov 2015)
MGC passionately protects religious rights of Sikhs, others in Malaysia (Asia Samachar, 19 Nov 2015)
Lawyer challenges Akal Takht order on new gurdwaras (Asia Samachar, 27 Sept 2015)
The fallen amongst us (Asia Samachar, 22 Aug 2015)