Archive for category Media

Journalists, Fight for Your Freedom!

By Kee Thuan Chye
Yahoo! News

The scourge is upon us. The Government is getting unreasonably authoritarian by suspending the publishing licence of the news weekly The Heat. We are seeing the beginnings of a return to Mahathirism, to the culture of fear that former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad imposed on us. It’s time to nip it in the bud before it gets more grim.

I call on the media and all journalists to do their part to stop the tyranny against media freedom. Stand up and take back your right to freedom of speech and expression. Push for the repeal of the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) which accords power to the Home Ministry to grant and revoke licences.

A friend of mine who works in the media suggests a sympathy strike by all journalists, with media owners in tacit support. Is that doable? Or is it too much to ask? Read the rest of this entry »

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Unable to take the heat, Putrajaya puts media on notice

December 20, 2013

Putrajaya’s transformation programme took a step backward yesterday when the Home Ministry suspended The Heat weekly, most likely for its November 22 lead article that focused on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s spendthrift ways.

While such reports are commonplace in online news portals, The Heat’s article hit too close to home as it was in print and came at a time when Putrajaya had cut fuel and sugar subsidies while higher electricity tariffs, toll charges and public transport fares were on the cards as public funds were tight.

Putrajaya insiders say the Home Ministry took action as the report made the PM look bad, which is an unwritten out-of-bounds marker in the local media scene.

“You get a permit to publish, so you must know your parameters even if you want to be critical,” a retired newspaperman told The Malaysian Insider.

“This is just a warning not to overstep the boundaries even if the PM can be quite liberal about such things,” he added, noting that the government is more concerned about print rather than online media. Read the rest of this entry »

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Will ‘The Heat’ wilt from Government heat?

– Kee Thuan Chye
The Malaysian Insider
December 17, 2013

The relatively outspoken weekly newspaper The Heat has been given a show-cause letter by the Home Ministry and reportedly told to tone down its fervour. And this has come about only three months since the paper sparked to life in early September.

This shows how tightly the Government still controls the media, and how difficult it is for any print publication to be critical of the ruling party. It also blows to bits the promise that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak made in September 2011 that he wanted to establish in Malaysia “the best democracy”. Unless, of course, he has a radically different understanding of “democracy”.

The online news website The Malaysian Insider had reported that the action taken by the ministry was believed to have been prompted by The Heat’s front-page article on Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor’s “spendthrift” use of public funds – on overseas trips, utilities in their official residence, the hiring of consultants, the use of the Government’s private jets, allocations for the Prime Minister’s Department. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysian media – watchdog or running dog?

New Mandala

If people use the mass media to inform themselves about their society and about the performance of their politicians, and if they use this information to direct their political choices and participation, then inadequate or inaccurate information is liable to result in misconceived political acts. (Street, 2001: 257)

Malaysia’s 13th General Election (GE13), held on the 5th of May 2013, was the continuation of a historical arc that begun at the 2008 general election (GE12), when the Barisan Nasional (BN), Malaysia’s ruling coalition for the past fifty-six years, lost the states of Penang and Selangor (and Perak temporarily) to the Opposition, as well as their coveted two-thirds Parliamentary majority. This was an unexpected shock to the system that immediately plunged Malaysia into an anticipatory political fervour. After 5 years of delays, civil unrest, and an increasingly unified opposition, with their term stretched to the far edge of expiration (and several state assemblies pushed beyond this point), BN failed to counter Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) message of ‘Ini Kali Lah!’, returning their worst result ever. The BN not only failed to recover a two-thirds majority in Parliament but lost the popular vote for the first time, with only 47.38% support compared to PR’s 50.87%.

The anticipation and tension leading up to and extending beyond GE13 (with widespread accusations of electoral fraud and BN retaining power through systemic gerrymandering and malapportionment), was apparent not just within civil society but also within academia, surely going down as not just the most anticipated but the most researched election in Malaysian history. Non-governmental organisations, too, were on high alert, with extensive scrutiny of electoral processes and authorities. One of the main areas of interest and contention in political, academic, activist, and civil society alike was that of media bias.
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For New Straits Times to Be Truly Repentant …

By Kee Thuan Chye

Last Friday, the New Straits Times ate humble pie and apologised to four NGOs for having defamed them in a front-page report it published last year that carried no substance and offered no evidence whatsoever to support its accusation that they were involved in a plot to destabilise the Government.

The newspaper now acknowledges that the report, written by Farrah Naz Karim, was “groundless” and “false”, and that it “should not have been published”.

When it came out on September 21, 2012, I was appalled by its blatant disregard of journalistic ethics – in fact, of any kind of ethics. I thought it pathetic that the newspaper had sunk so low. This was the worst transgression the paper had committed perhaps since 1998, when it carried on its front page a couple of stories that were editorials rather than news reports aimed at assassinating the character of Anwar Ibrahim after he was sacked by then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad for accusing the latter of paranoia and resisting the need to weed out corruption and cronyism. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Something rotten in Najib’s best democracy’

Nov 19, 2013

The state of the media in Malaysia indicates that the nation is not as democratic as it is made out to be, said a university-based researcher.

This is because most of the “mainstream Malaysian news media… is actually more akin to a BN party organ”, Nottingham University Media and Communications associate professor Tessa Houghton said.

“When the only media functioning as anything like professional news journalism organisations are in Mandarin or are online, it’s safe to say that something is seriously rotten in what aspires to be the best democracy in the world,” she said.

Houghton was responding to arguments against her media monitoring findings conducted in the lead-up to and during the 13th general election. Read the rest of this entry »

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How did I suddenly become a communist in the past four years when in the previous 43 years, I was not a communist?

Recently, there has been an escalation of the campaign of lies and falsehoods against Pakatan Rakyat leaders, not only in cyberspace, but even in Parliament and the various State Assemblies.

The latest instance is in the Johore State Assembly, where the DAP State Assemblyman for Pekan Nenas, Yeo Tung Siong was accused of being a “communist” by the Umno State Assemblyman for Kukup Suhaimi bin Salleh for his speech in the State Assembly.

What was Tung Siong’s crime? What did Tung Siong say? Did Tung Siong glorify communism?

I asked Tung Siong and he sent me his speech in the Johore State Assemby early this week where he did not make any mention of communism. Read the rest of this entry »

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NST to apologise for ‘plot to destablise gov’t’ report

Lawrence Yong
Nov 13, 2013

It was a victory for responsible journalism in Malaysia today when mainstream daily New Straits Times (NST) had to bend to demands from four NGOs to apologise for publishing a fabricated story.

The apology was part of the conditions set by polls reform movement Bersih 2.0, human rights group Suaram, Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and pollster Merdeka Centre, for dropping their defamation suit against the “oldest English newspaper in the country”.

NST’s website claims that it has been publishing since 1845.

NST also agreed to pay RM120,000 to the four parties, for reporting more than a year ago that the NGOs were plotting to overthrow the BN government.

“The damage was done at that time… I certainly hope this doesn’t become a habit for the NST to write a fabricated story and then apologise for it later,” Bersih 2.0 chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan told reporters outside the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

“The apology is not the end of the matter. What we want to see is responsible journalism.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Laugh, Perkasa, and Be Effing Happy!

By Kee Thuan Chye
Yahoo! News

The disclaimer at the beginning of the show tells it all: “This programme is intended for immature audiences only. This programme is NOT intended for educational purposes, merely to stimulate FUN. If you are easily offended, mudah tersinggung or terkeliru, probably best to close the window right now.”

This is That Effing Show, described by its producers as “a satirical news show that laughs, pokes fun and points out the (often) obvious and not-so-obvious absurdities of Malaysian socio-political life”. Created by a bunch of clever, creative and concerned young people, it has been coming out regularly on the web TV network PopTeeVee since 2010.

By its own description, the show is a parody of Malaysian life, done in good humour, which means it is not to be taken seriously. Those who are easily offended or confused are warned not to watch it. This being clear, the show should therefore not expect any complaints against it except aesthetic ones – like perhaps it failed to generate fun or to entertain, or that the technical production was sub-standard, or that its actors performed badly.

Perkasa, however, is taking it very seriously. The Malay rights organisation has taken exception particularly to the series’ recent segment, ‘That Effing Show #95: Allah, Apa Lagi?’, and its complaint is not on aesthetic grounds. Perkasa has even made not just one but nine police reports against it! Read the rest of this entry »

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It is a Right, Not a Privilege, So What Now?

By Kee Thuan Chye

All Malaysiakini asked for was publish a daily newspaper in English of 40,000 copies to be sold only in the Klang Valley. But this was not acceptable to the Home Ministry, which rejected its application in August 2010. Why? What was the Government afraid of?

Sure, as an online news website, Malaysiakini had distinguished itself as a provider of news that the mainstream media often hid from the public for fear of offending the Government, and it had won tremendous support from truth-starved Malaysians who wanted to get “the other side of the story”, the side that exposed the Government’s shenanigans and deceptions. But the number of copies it was asking for its print version was relatively low, and with its distribution restricted to the Klang Valley, where there is a concentration of supporters of the Opposition, the newspaper would be mostly preaching to the converted anyway.

Besides, it was entering a market in which English-language newspapers owned by ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties, like The Star and New Straits Times, were already long entrenched and wielding considerable influence on their readers.

In any case, the Home Ministry did not give any grounds for rejecting Malaysiakini’s application. But when Malaysiakini brought the case to the High Court for a judicial review, the Minister had to state his reasons in an affidavit.

The case was heard in October 2012. The Government’s lawyer submitted that the granting of a publication permit was a privilege, not a right. But the judge disagreed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Umno diseru untuk berhenti menyebarkan pembohongan dalam pilihanraya kecil Sg Limau kerana ia menjejaskan dasar 1Malaysia Najib, mengancam keharmonian hubungan antara kaum dan menjejaskan daya saing Malaysia

Umno diseru untuk berhenti menyebarkan pembohongan dalam pilihanraya kecil Sg Limau kerana ia menjejaskan dasar 1Malaysia Najib, mengancam keharmonian hubungan antara kaum dan menjejaskan daya saing Malaysia.

Dalam sidang media di Sungai Limau menjelang tengah malam Isnin, selepas PAS dan Pakatan Rakyat mengumumkan Mohd Azam Samat sebagai
calon untuk pilihanraya kecil Sungai Limau, saya meminta semua parti yang bertanding untuk menjadikan pilihanraya kecil itu sebagai model bagi politik bersi, jujur, dan bermaruah dengan memastikan pembohongan dan kepalsuan tidak disebarkan dan taktik serangan peribadi atau politik wang tidak digunakan.

Di sini saya melahirkan kekecewaan kerana seruan saya ke arah pilihanraya kecil yang bersih, jujur, dan bermaruah di Sungai Limau telah diabaikan sejak hari pertama kempen pilihanraya kecil itu lagi, iaitu kelmarin.

Seperti dilaporkan oleh wartawan Malaysiakini Susan Loone dalam laporan bertajuk “UMNO bids to undermine PAS’ Islamic credentials”,
dalam sebuah ceramah kelompok malam kelmarin, juru kempen Umno dan Barisan Nasional telah cuba meraih sokongan 93 peratus pengundi Melayu Muslim di Sungai Limau dengan menyebarkan pembohongan bahawa DAP merancang untuk membentuk Negara Kristian di Malaysia.
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You should be in a home, minister

Eric Loo
Oct 9, 2013

When I was a reporter in the late 70s, the home minister known to lecture journalists at press conferences on what to write was ‘King Ghaz’. But Muhammad Ghazali Shafie had our respect. He had style and substance.

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has none.

The home minister’s verbal abuse of a Malaysiakini reporter however, had a plus. It provided a teaching aid to show students that the irrational antics of political morons during press conferences is fodder for great stories.

I commend the reporter for his tenacity despite the minister’s mindless heckling,and maligning of Malaysiakini for ‘spinning’ his words. ‘Spinning’ actually means to twist a report to one’s advantage, which readers know applies well to the mainstream media’s slanted coverageof the 13th general election while demonising the opposition. Read the rest of this entry »

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Of running dogs, misunderstanding and proving the phrase

The Malaysian Insider
October 07, 2013

The police are looking into five reports against DAP publicity chief Tony Pua for calling the Registrar of Societies and Utusan Malaysia Umno’s running dogs.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Mohd Zinin reportedly said they want to decide whether Pua should be investigated under criminal law or the Sedition Act.

This is where it gets farcical. Why investigate a man for calling someone else a lackey?

Do the police, Utusan Malaysia, the five groups that lodged the reports or even Umno understand what running dogs even means? It’s an English translation of the Mandarin word that refers to lackeys or lapdogs. Read the rest of this entry »

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RM38,000 wasted in Health Ministry’s ‘stupid’ campaign

Auditor-General’s 2012 Report (2)
Oct 1, 2013

The Health Ministry’s decision to brand smokers as ‘stupid’ in promotional literature cost it RM38,750 after the material was deemed unsuitable for distribution.

The Auditor-General’s Report 2012 states that the ministry had ordered 300 backpacks costing RM19,500 and 3,500 notepads at RM19,250 with the slogan ‘Smoking, a stupid habit for stupid people’.

But the items never made it into the hands of the citizens as the language was later deemed inappropriate.

But the lingual faux pas was not the ministry’s only mistake. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kit Siang sues Utusan over claims of CEC manipulation

by Melissa Chi
The Malay Mail Online
September 27, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — DAP’s Lim Kit Siang filed a lawsuit today against Utusan Melayu over an article alleging he had manipulated the party’s central executive committee (CEC) election — the same day its newspaper Utusan Malaysia printed an apology to the party’s leaders over another article.

His lawyer, Gobind Singh Deo told reporters that the Umno mouthpiece was libelous in an article published on August 18 this year.

“The article in which Utusan used repeated information from the alleged book which quotes one Father Augustus Chen, which we say don’t exist.

“We challenge Utusan to come up with proof to show that Father Augustus Chen exist and to also prove that the allegations that he had made in respect to the 753 delegates did not get notice, proof that, and also the allegation in respect to the fact that there was 500 or more phantom voters from Penang,” he said after the High Court dismissed the bid for injunction against DAP polls.

The 16-page booklet surfaced in Penang sometime last month, claiming irregularities and vote manipulation allegedly to place cronies of both Kit Siang and his son, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, on the powerful CEC, among other allegations. Read the rest of this entry »

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Utusan and national aspiration

- The Malaysian Insider
September 22, 2013

Utusan Malaysia’s Sunday edition today carried an opinion piece lashing out at The Malaysian Insider for its reportage of the Malay newspaper, saying it goes against national aspirations.For good measure, it defined the aspirations as Malay issues and the official religion, Islam.

And it went on a litany of issues from the Allah issue to the late Communist Party of Malaya secretary-general Chin Peng and how the authorities should take action including suspending the portal’s permit.

Let’s make a few things clear.

Utusan’s narrow racial interest is not akin to the larger and wider Malaysian interest.

This is a nation which is 50 years old and it is for all Malaysians, not just a racial subset.

One cannot use the name Malaysia in its masthead and just champion a single race and call it a national aspiration. One cannot then say anyone having a contrary opinion is a traitor to a national cause. Read the rest of this entry »

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A “grouse” about TMI’s “woeful” usage

– Clive Kessler
The Malaysian Insider
September 22, 2013

“In a public tribunal, many air grouses over Election 2013,” your recent TMI headline trumpets.

Malaysian journalistic usage, with its verbal idiosyncrasies, is sometimes strange.

Even stranger is the fact that those who seek to offer an alternative approach, or speak in a different voice, often (and unthinkingly, so it seems) adopt the language of the dominant press.

They, and here now including The Malaysian Insider, do so without recognizing the hidden assumptions and attitudes, the insidious implications, that are built into those all too familiar “mainstream” usages.

Malaysians love to speak of “woes”.

A woe is a disaster that descends without discernible cause, mysteriously, and without anyone being responsible. Since they exclude human agency, the word’s connotations are exculpatory.

To call some systemic failure (of public utilities or services) a “woe” is to imply that it is a mysterious affliction, a metaphysical conundrum, for which nobody is, or may be held, accountable.

Whose interests does this implication, neatly smuggled unawares by the word “woe” into a reader’s response to the reported facts, serve? Read the rest of this entry »

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Pak Samad – always the people’s artist

By Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
Free Malaysia Today
September 21, 2013

A democratic society seeks to unleash the creativity of all its citizens and to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of its most gifted and dedicated, not otherwise.


I refer to the utterly insightful and undeniably powerful essay of Jeswan Kaur, ‘Pak Samad isn’t the problem here’, published in FMT on Sept 8.

I beg the indulgence of the reader and may I be allowed to add a few words of concurrence and to explicate my own take on the whole matter.

According to the National Cultural Policy of the Australian government, the role of the artist is as follows:

“A democratic society seeks to unleash the creativity of all its citizens and to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of its most gifted and dedicated. The value of creativity is something that is increasingly recognised and valued. Creativity is an essential attribute in an increasing number of occupations.

“The most gifted artists, however, take the ability to imagine, adapt, empathise and collaborate to another level through training, practice, discipline and courage. The extraordinary achievements that come when the most gifted individuals combine capacity and skill is something we recognise.”

From this description, we can deduce that artists are creative people and that their creativity is necessary for the development of one’s society. Further said, creativity is something that must be recognized and valued by the said society that produced the artist. Read the rest of this entry »

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Relive history – with a modern twist

by Chester Chin
September 15, 2013

PETALING JAYA: For the first time, Malaysians will see clear video footage of the late Tunku Abdul Rahman when he declared the country’s independence.

Not only that, local celebrities and politicians like Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Nurul Izzah Anwar, Lim Kit Siang, Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, Datin Sofia Jane and Datuk David Arumugum could also be seen in the crowd at Merdeka Stadium in other footages.

The footage is just some of the many old clips from the 1950s and 1960s restored and doctored by local filmmaker Pete Teo and his team over a span of five months.

These clips will be featured in Teo’s latest Hari Malaysia music video which will premiere at midnight both on and YouTube.

“Previously, you would not be able to see Tunku’s face in the footage.

“However, we have restored the footage to give Malaysians a clearer picture of the moment,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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When is it patriotic to like crap?

Erna Mahyuni
The Malay Mail Online
September 11, 2013

SEPT 11 — You would think I set fire to the flag and declared my allegiance to North Korea, judging from the vitriol I got for my “Tanda Putera” review.

Someone even said that I shouldn’t have been so hard on the film since it was “a local film.”

So if it is a local film, I shouldn’t expect it to have a coherent script?

So if it is a local film, I shouldn’t hope the actors are more than decorative furnishings that speak?

So if it is a local film, I should fully expect it to be bad and be pleasantly surprised if it does not suck

If a film is about any of our historical leaders, painting them in a beatific light then I have to like it before even watching it? Read the rest of this entry »

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