The Malay Mail Online
April 22, 2014
KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 — The foreign media should not be attacked for sullying Malaysia’s image in its coverage of the MH370 crisis, veteran journalist Datuk A. Kadir Jasin said, telling local authorities to first look at the circumstances surrounding the missing jetliner before pointing fingers at others.
The former group editor-in-chief for English daily New Straits Times said criticising the press when they were just doing their jobs was akin to “shooting the messenger”.
“It won’t solve the problem, especially if what they’ve reported is the truth,” he said in a blog posting here.
“When one messenger is shot, tens more will arise. The information and communication technology of today allows any person with a computer or a smartphone to become instant journalists should they want to,” he pointed out.
Kadir added that given the lack of answers to the ongoing crisis, and the string of unfortunate incidents that followed the jetliner’s mysterious disappearance last month, it was to be expected that Malaysia would take a beating in the international media.
He cited several examples, including last week’s capture of a Malaysian air force major in the US. The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) major, Mohd Faiz bin Abdul Jalil, was caught for allegedly attempting to smuggle out a Taurus PT-22 pistol back to Malaysia.
Kadir noted that the news had come at a time when the Malaysian air force was still struggling to fend off criticisms against its ability to keep the country’s airspace secure.
The RMAF earned public scorn when it was revealed during the early days of MH370’s disappearance that the Boeing 777 aircraft ferrying 239 people had made an unauthorised air turnback and passed through military radar unnoticed.
The aircraft’s changed flight path was only confirmed later and became the basis of the ongoing hunt for the plane in the southern Indian Ocean, which is thousands of miles away from the original search zone in the South China Sea.
“So can we blame the foreign media for tarnishing our country’s image by reporting these incidents when even our media would do the same?” Kadir pointed out.
The senior journalist said the case of the RMAF major was not the only example.
He also cited the case of Leonard Glenn Francis, the Malaysian businessman known by the moniker “Fat Leonard” who has been charged with bribing US Navy officials with sex, luxury holidays and concert tickets.
“So instead, we should condemn, and where possible, punish our own citizens for committing crimes abroad and destroying our image,” he said.
As such, Kadir rubbished claims of a foreign media agenda against Malaysia, saying based on his observations, the press have only reported the truth.
He admitted that some reports, particularly in the Chinese media, may have been sensationalised or injected with emotion, but said this should be expected for as long as MH370 remains unfound.
The media will continue to fill the information gaps with theories and speculation, he said, until searchers discover the missing aircraft.
“And after that, if the plane is found, the focus will then be on the investigation,” he said.