Zam the “Minister for Truth” ala-Orwell’s 1984 in Abdullah administration?

It is five days since last Wednesday’s extraordinary briefing to the country’s top editors by the Information Minister, Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s pledge to “hear the truth” does not apply to the media as it was restricted to Barisan Nasional leaders and government officials — and three days since the public revelation of such a “directive” by Malaysiakini in an exclusive report on Friday.

As there had been no clarification or correction by the Prime Minister to such a briefing by Zainuddin, who specifically told the editors that he was acting under Abdullah’s instructions to convey to the media that the Prime Minister’s repeated pledges to “listen to the truth” did not mean that the media have the green light to “practice unrestrained reporting”, I feel compelled to pose in Parliament when it reconvenes next week the following question:

Does Abdullah want Zainuddin to be his “Minister for Truth” ala-Orwell’s 1984, exemplar of “doublespeak and doublethink” in his administration?

George Orwell’s novel 1984 painted a totalitarian country paralleling Stalinist Russia and Hitlerian Nazi Germany, where there is incessant brainwashing and re-education in a society saturated by doublethink and doublespeak.

There is a Ministry of Peace which concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and Ministry of Plenty with starvation.

Is Malaysia on the occasion of Abdullah’s fourth anniversary as Prime Minister heading in the direction of the “doublethink and doublespeak” of Orwell’s 1984, starting with the directive to the editors that the Prime Minister’s pledge to “hear the truth” does not apply to the press or the public at large?

Is this the reason why Abdullah’s pledge to eradicate corruption and to be the modern-day Justice Bao is meant to be understood in the reverse, resulting in even-worse corruption in the country in the past four years?

And why on the occasion of the 50th Merdeka anniversary, when there should be a greater sense of national unity and oneness, the prevailing sentiments in the country are the reverse?

  1. #1 by undergrad2 on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 11:44 am

    You can never trust a mamak.

  2. #2 by Cinapek on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 11:49 am

    Since AAB has not responded to clarify Zam’s briefings to the editors, one has to assume that Zam has given those directions on AAB’s behalf.

    Having said this, so now AAB is saying he should be told only what he wants to hear, not what he should hear. But I thought this is already what is happening? That is what his SIL and the 4th floor boys are doing. They are screening everything he gets to hear. He has just put into words what has been happening all along.

    My advice to him is to go back to the history books and read about Louis XIV and the last Tzar of Russia who were also selective in listening to the truths of their nations. Louis XIV refuse to believe it when told his people had no bread to eat and suggested they eat cake instead. As a result, he lost his head and France became a republic. The Russian Tzar listened only to Rasputin and refused to listened to the truth of his people’s sufferings. He paid for it with his life and that of his entire family. Russia also became a republic.

  3. #3 by k1980 on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 2:00 pm

    Also England’s Charles I, China’s Chiang Kai-shek, Rumania’s Nicolae CeauÅŸescu and many more.

  4. #4 by wits0 on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 2:04 pm

    “You can never trust a mamak.”

    A lot may have to do with the ingrained exclusive religosity.

  5. #5 by Jamesy on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 2:28 pm

    # undergrad2 Says:
    October 15th, 2007 at 11: 44.39

    You can never trust a mamak.



  6. #6 by k1980 on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 2:33 pm

    Kung Fu-tze says: Those who hear what they want to hear, will get what they do not want to get

  7. #7 by Justicewanted on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 2:41 pm

    United Malays National Organisation ia also known as United Mamaks National Organisation (Malay: Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Mamak Bersatu)

  8. #8 by sotong on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 3:28 pm

    Now they want to monopoly the truth!

  9. #9 by lakshy on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 3:47 pm

    Doublespeak has been going on for sometime now. Even the CJ is guilty of it!

  10. #10 by chew km on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 4:07 pm

    Imagine that!! Such gabage coming out from the mouth of the Minister of Imformation? Is the prime minister, I repeat, the prime minister, dumb enough to make such a stupid request? Are all the government officials moronic enough to accept that?

    If thats the direction our “national” leaders are leading us? Even hell will accept Malaysians.
    I hope these two idiots will resign before they are voted out.
    Malaysia is doom. Habis-lah.

  11. #11 by AnakTiriMalaysia on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 4:21 pm

    # sotong Says:
    October 15th, 2007 at 15: 28.37

    Now they want to monopoly the truth!

    UMNO just want to ‘kelentong’ its supporters and naive Malaysian with its engineered VERSION OF TRUTH ……. The truth may not be favourable to their party..

  12. #12 by HJ Angus on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 4:42 pm

    I wrote about this on 12th October

    The PM should realise that the buck stops with him and he simply cannot allow his Ministers to make such remarks without an immediate correction.

    The damage to the leadership’s credibilty is really bad. Maybe the trip to space has spaced them out!

  13. #13 by k1980 on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 5:10 pm

    The buck (RM510 million) stops in whose pocket? RM510 million is enough to send 6 spaceflight participants to the ISS
    The Malaysian ministry of defense paid one billion euros (RM4.5 billion) to Amaris for the three submarines, for which Perimekar received an 11 percent commission, 114 million euros (RM510 million) from Amaris.

  14. #14 by toyolbuster on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 5:45 pm

    Zam, you are a big disgrace.

  15. #15 by sheriff singh on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 6:54 pm

  16. #16 by sheriff singh on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 7:00 pm

    Over 200,000 (they say) attended his open house conducted at public expense with free makan.

    “They” must support him to turn up. So true or false he has the public’s “support”, so it is justified.

  17. #17 by dawsheng on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 7:48 pm

    As there had been no clarification or correction by the Prime Minister to such a briefing by Zainuddin, who specifically told the editors that he was acting under Abdullah’s instructions to convey to the media that the Prime Minister’s repeated pledges to “listen to the truth” did not mean that the media have the green light to “practice unrestrained reporting”

    Stupid or what???

  18. #18 by dawsheng on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 7:51 pm

    “And why on the occasion of the 50th Merdeka anniversary, when there should be a greater sense of national unity and oneness, the prevailing sentiments in the country are the reverse?”

    I left. Singapore is booming!

  19. #19 by Jong on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 10:03 pm

    There will be no peace in Malaysia with gobloks like him around. He’s despicable, just cannot be trusted!

  20. #20 by ahpiow on Monday, 15 October 2007 - 11:52 pm

    In the Lingamgate video, it cannot be accepted as genuine as the original must be produced and the person who recorded it must identify him/herself first.

    So, in the same context, Zam’s statement cannot be accepted as true unless AAB personally confirms that he authorised Zam to make the statements as his spokesman. So, AAB where are you?

    Case closed!

  21. #21 by voice on Tuesday, 16 October 2007 - 12:04 am

    I don’t know how long will this talk will go but it won’t solve the problem from the root, we MUST act!

  22. #22 by wits0 on Tuesday, 16 October 2007 - 1:50 am

    Can we not see now that the fake ministry of information is in fact the odious ministry to restrict and misrepresent information? In any case, it’s so condescending to the populace to have any ministry to deal with information in this age and time.

  23. #23 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 16 October 2007 - 2:40 am

    Our government hypocritically promotes freedom abroad – Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar urged Myanmar to free democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi – but seeks to manacle and suppress its expression here.

    Chief secretary to the government Mohd Sidek Hassan started the first salvos by urging media organisations to avoid emphasising on news deemed negative against the government, such as the 2006 Auditor-General’s report. Why doesn’t he just tell the Auditor-General not to do his job, to skew his report and omit the parts on wastage by government department? Wouldn’t this be more direct instead of letting Auditor-General report and then telling media not to report what the Auditor-General reported?

    Zainuddin Maidin’s telling the editors not to play up negative news because Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s pledge to “hear the truth” did not apply to the media is an open admission that our mainstream press is not expected to report the unvarnished truth but the selective truth that reflects well on the government, omitting the parts that are not.

    When Zam explained that the PM’s often repeated pledges of “listening to the truth” were only restricted to government officials and Barisan Nasional leaders so as to assist the cabinet in making decisions (and not the media) he means and must be taken to mean that the media role is not to tell the government the truth but to tell the government’s version of truth….

    In short, Zam has openly depicted the media a propaganda tool for the government.

    Of course everyone knows all along that it is but for a senior minister to so openly say it, well what can we say – at least he is honest to say that we’re going towards the direction of North Korea, China, Burma, Turkmenistan and Bhutan.

    Come May 3rd next year (World’s Press Freedom Day), Malaysia will slip down a few more notches down the international ranking of Press Freedom by Freedom House, giving yet another reason (besides NEP, corruption, crime surge etc) for foreign investors to shy away.

    Sad to say we who have so much pride in having one of our own as a spaceflight participant or space tourist however feel no shame in slipping down in international ranking in terms of Press Freedom, Corruption, Education – the things that truly count.

    What is of concern is not just the constraint on the media not to report the truth if it forms negative news. This is often the first step down the slippery slope to faking positive news to shore up government’s support. After all what’s the difference, in principle? The media is either a government tool or it is not : if the role foisted upon it by the Minister of Information, with all powers to control the very existence of the newspaper itself, is to spin, then why stop at suppression of negative news, why not proceed further to fabrication and creation of positive news ? The object is the same. The price paid by the media – loss of credibility – is also, in principle, the same in either instance.

    Maybe Zam should then secure as advisor Iraqi ex-Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf who had become almost a cult figure during the American/British invasion of Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein for his outlandish exaggeration and distortion of the truth!

    The side effect of this is to make the rakyat turn more towards alternative (especially On-line) media for news, which is counter productive, as it does not portend well for the influence, sales and bottom line profit figures of government controlled mainstream media in time to come.

  24. #24 by wits0 on Tuesday, 16 October 2007 - 4:30 am

    “In short, Zam has openly depicted the media a propaganda tool for the government.”

    A ghost probably whacked him from behind like the one that did the same to Nazri, making them spew forth the truth that many can piece together.

  25. #25 by Godfather on Tuesday, 16 October 2007 - 8:13 am

    “We are not in the business of cheating the people.” Sleepy Head, 2005.

    Are we supposed to believe what a bunch of crooks, liars and cheats say ?

  26. #26 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 16 October 2007 - 8:34 am

    Abdullah telling people to speak the truth is like an ugly women asking her husband to tell her the truth about her looks. Any husband worth his salt would know you are asking for trouble if you listen to her.

    And that is the problem, Abdullah is not only similarly inconsistent, he is behaving similarly womenly, poor in leadership, indulgent, spoilt by the comforts of establish rules and structure, but still wanting more but not willing to pay the price, yet still think other people should do more and owe them more i.e., entitlement.

    It is given Abdullah is not the leader to oversea great changes but rather a caretaker. The best Malaysian can hope for is that he does not mess things up worst than his predecessor would have. And there is one danger that he will leave a legacy that could be abused worst than his predecessor by sheer inertia, By entrenching the elected Sultanate system, he puts in danger the possibility of abuse by the truly ambitious. All it takes is someone mediocre but more ambitious and we would end up a basketcase.

    Everything else that Badawi does is irrelevant whether good or bad.

  27. #27 by mendela on Tuesday, 16 October 2007 - 10:15 am

    Wikipedia wrote: Iraq ex-Information minister Al-Sahhaf is known for his daily press briefings in Baghdad during the 2003 Iraq War. His colorful appearances caused him to be nicknamed Baghdad Bob (in the style of previous propagandists with alliterative aliases such as “Tokyo Rose,” “Hanoi Hannah,” and “Seoul City Sue”) by commentators in the United States and Comical Ali (an allusion to Chemical Ali, the nickname of former Iraqi Defence Minister Ali Hassan al-Majid) by commentators in the United Kingdom.

    On April 7, 2003, al-Sahhaf claimed that there were no American troops in Baghdad, and that the Americans were committing suicide by the hundreds at the city’s gates. At that time, American tanks were patrolling the streets only a few hundred yards from the location where the press conference was held. His last public appearance as Information Minister was on April 8, 2003, when he said that the Americans “are going to surrender or be burned in their tanks. They will surrender, it is they who will surrender”.

    He gained something of a cult following in the west, appearing on T-shirts, cartoons, and from internet phenomena came satirical websites. One such site featured sound bites of the minister, as well as photoshopped pictures of him on the Star Wars Death Star, at The Battle of Waterloo and at the D-Day landings, in all cases maintaining that “everything is just fine.”[2]

    May be we should call Zam as “KL Shame” !

  28. #28 by madmix on Tuesday, 16 October 2007 - 11:04 am

    Teaching children untruths:
    AS the Earth revolved below the International Space Station, a gasing or Malay top, spun in the station on Sunday.

    A model of the aluminium top used in the experiment on Sunday.
    A model of the aluminium top used in the experiment on Sunday.
    The demonstration, performed as part of the “twisting orbital platform” experiment, showed a top revolving non-stop.

    And because of the microgravity on board, the top spun in mid-air.

    The experiment, videotaped by Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, was conducted for schoolchildren to observe the effects of microgravity.

    Angkasawan programme director Col Dr Zulkeffeli Mat Jusoh said due to the effects of space, the top, made of aluminium, would never stop revolving.

    “The initial speed at which the top revolves will depend on how hard the cord is pulled.

    “It may slow down but it won’t stop spinning, and will instead pick up speed and spin like before,” he said yesterday.

    Acting director of the National Space Agency (Angkasa) Dr Mustafa Din Subari said the demonstration was an interesting experiment.

    “Some may think we are simply main gasing (playing with a top) but it’s a physics demonstration to show the effects of microgravity.

    “It’s an experiment which students will find fascinating,” he added.

    I say it will stop: why? because the top is not spun in a vacuum. There is air in the ISS . Air resistance will eventually cause the spinning to decay although this may take years. This is what causes satellites in low orbit to eventually fall to the earth. The very thin atmosphere in near space in enough to cause orbital decay. Simple Newtonian physics.

  29. #29 by sotong on Tuesday, 16 October 2007 - 11:23 am

    Information is power…..this is how most government maintain control over their people at the great expense of the country and her ordinary people.

  30. #30 by wits0 on Tuesday, 16 October 2007 - 11:51 am

    ““We are not in the business of cheating the people.” Sleepy Head, 2005.””

    Just bending rules and perpetuating that.

    How did this one function as the top gomen servant in PSD way before the NEP? How did he build up his political support? Did he helped people without the necessary qualifications to get jobs? No doubt all these would have long been long retired and some related have gone into business too with plenty of help.

  31. #31 by Jimm on Tuesday, 16 October 2007 - 12:12 pm

    Welcometo Malaysia !!!!!
    We all know that the powerful behind the national scam are getting older now and startingto lose grips over the system.
    The puppy are barking loud because they are hungry for ‘foods’ too.’
    Just imagine the level of intense political challenges that they have built against those older defenders of the system ….
    Once … should be lucky … too many times ..must be selfishness.

  32. #32 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 16 October 2007 - 12:43 pm

    I said Zam was, at least, ‘honest’ of using mainstream media as propaganda tool because most governments, world over [including that of the US – do we dare say that Bush, the president of the bastion of Democracy does not try to manipulate media to support his war effort in Iraq?] would similarly seek, in varying degrees and under different guises, to do the same, trying to manipulate media, suppress negative and disseminate positive information to influence either directly or indirectly the opinions, emotions, attitudes, or behavior of the constitutencies all in the name and under the banner of national objectives, but actually ultimately in support of the interest of the ruling elite and party in power and their continuance in power.

    But today is not yesterday. The governments have lost the monopoly to influence public opinion via the printed media as increasingly communication is facilitated via the Internet, the alternative media and citizen journalism via blogs like this, which they cannot control.

    Since propaganda is most effective where only 5% of populace think, 10% think they think, 85% would rather die than think, the most effective antidote against manipulation of thoughts through media is the citizenry’s growing literacy and cultivation of the mental skills of critical thinking.

    Critical thinking means not believing everything one reads or is told. It is as much a mental habit as a social value that can be cultivated and ingrained. It is an innate distrust of everything that one reads or is told is the truth unless tested against the consistency and balance of other established or known facts; it is a habit of mind to evaluate and examine propositions against known logical fallacies.

    Critical thinking rests upon allowing people full freedom to dissent, discuss, dispute, and in that process refine deeper what has been discussed.

    Question is how long the government will allow this atmosphere of freedom to discuss and dispute, without which even critical thinking is of no help when it is silenced by guns, as the latest events and suppression of the monks in Myanmar demonstrate……

    Realistically, we Malaysians should not be too overly concerned with what Zam said. It is not earth shaking because the partiality of gov’t controlled mainstream media to paint government in positive light and to play down negative news is only expected – and hence, discounted….

    What we should be concerned and ought to resist is any attempt to silence even the alternative media or control the Internet or government leaders incarcerating and, in the case of Singapore much admired by many here, suing critics to bankruptcy…..

    So I’m only exaggerating that Zam’s statement signals that we’re heading the direction of North Korea, China, Burma, Turkmenistan and Bhutan, only to dramatise a point. We’re not heading there until the day the government clamps down on all public discourse, blogs and alternative media like Malaysiakini. (At this moment the powers-to-be still engage rather than using the fist – the latest example, Nazri’s interview with Malaysiakini, never mind you may think he ‘talked cock’ Would this be likely during TDM’s administration or even Lee Kuan Yew’s administration?)

    What Zam does not grasp is that when a certain latitude is given to alternative media to publish negative news, what does he expect editors of mainstream newspapers to do? Like it or not, the negative news are already out in the open – so what is the difference to the government? – and mainstream papers, which also need to expand readership, cover their costs of production and make money, will look damn silly, loosing credibility if they said nothing leaving the glory of journalism to the Online bulletins and the blogs to be first at the news.

    Two recent examples highlight this predicament of mainstream press : the first is the breaking news on Lingam’s tape and the other is Nazri’s gaffe on the non existent Witness Protection Act/Bill. The poor mainstream news media were silent in the beginning, testing waters and later publish the developments to the extent they did not negatively reflect on the government. It is like telling the story somewhere in the middle with no head and no certainty as to the tail of the story to come.

    How pathetic!

  33. #33 by Godfather on Tuesday, 16 October 2007 - 1:18 pm

    At least in the US, there is press freedom, so there is the complete spectrum of right to left. The US constitution guarantees freedom of speech. In Bolehland, even if there is constitutional guarantee of the freedom of speech, the exceptions are so many that a corrupt regime bolstered by corrupt enforcement agencies could simply find excuses to put people in jail for simply speaking the truth.

    The simple fact is that only a maximum of 20 pct of the voters read the alternative press. Of the other 80 pct, probably only 10 – 20 pct can exercise some form of critical thinking, which means that the majority of voters continue to take in the bullsh!t propagated by the mainstream press.

    Why is the government unconcerned that our education system is going to the dogs ? The answer is simple – so that the vast majority have no capability of critical thinking that would upset the thieves’ applecart.

  34. #34 by wits0 on Tuesday, 16 October 2007 - 1:44 pm

    “… – so that the vast majority have no capability of critical thinking that would upset the thieves’ applecart.”

    Exactly why non conformist individualism related to critical thinking is so discouraged. The need group zombies for their support. U must conform!

  35. #35 by k1980 on Tuesday, 16 October 2007 - 5:28 pm

    Comical Ali of Baghdad 2003: “everything is just fine.”

    Comical Dollah of KL : “semuanya OK”

    Long lost twins?

You must be logged in to post a comment.