Malaysiakini today reported that footage of Perak Speaker V. Sivakumar being bodily dragged out, in Speaker robes and Speaker chair, from the Perak State Assembly by police officers and goons on May 7 Day of Infamy has been banned from being aired on television stations.
Malaysiakini reported that a TV station has video footage of the “enduring image” of the May 7 Day of Infamy – the dramatic moment when the Perak Speaker, in his robes and chair, was physically removed from the Assembly – but Malaysians did not get to see it on the orders of its owner, Media Prima.
Media Prima, which is believed to be linked to ruling party Umno, controls the country’s four free-to-air private TV stations – TV3, NTV7, TV8 and TV9.
According to a source who requested anonymity, the staff were given ‘directives’ from senior managers on the evening of May 7 not to screen the controversial footage despite one of its stations had captured the whole incident on tape.
“We have the entire visuals of Sivakumar being dragged out of the chair. However, we received instructions from the top not to screen it,” the source said.
The directives, added the source, were believed to be given verbally as there was not enough time for the management to issue a written notice.
Despite the directives, one of the television stations under the Media Prima group “accidently” aired the footage the next day – during deputy speaker Hee Yit Foong’s press conference, who was claiming that she did not abuse her power in taking over from Sivakumar as speaker.
“The footage (of Sivakumar being dragged out) was shown in fast-forward mode, but soon after that we were instructed to write a memo to our bosses,” said the source.
The explanation, said the source, is believed to be sent to news and current affairs director Kamarulzaman Zainal.
“We had to write a memo as to why we showed the footage so they would know who should be blamed for it,” added the source.
The television stations were told to use footage other than those from the May 7 assembly in their reports.
“We were told to use archives for our visuals, for example, visuals from the courts and other state assembly proceedings,” the source added.
The source also said that they were not allowed to broadcast footage of the arrests outside the state assembly building, where close to 100 individuals, including opposition parliamentarians and state representatives, were arrested.
Such directives are not new in Media Prima as a TV station under its stable were given similar instructions not to name political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda when reporting on the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case last month.
This is the latest sign of the return of Mahathirism in the Najib premiership, where suppression, oppression and repression of the fundamental liberties and human rights of Malaysian to freedom of speech, expression, assembly, association, press and information will become increasingly the order of the day and the refuge of the powers-that-be instead of promoting an open society by engaging Malaysians in debate and dialogue.
We are only coming to the sixth week of the Najib premiership, but already there is a long list of ghosts and taboos which the new Prime Minister and his administration are in mortal fear and which are being banned from permissible public discourse – like the mention of Altantuya Shaariibuu, the wearing of black and now the video footages of the Perak Assembly Speaker being physically dragged out of the Assembly.
If the video footage of the Perak Speaker being physically dragged out of the Assembly is so heinous, then the physical violence of dragging out the Speaker should be even more reprehensible – but why has no action been taken against the police officers and goons responsible for the dastardly act although they are openly identified in photographs and videos world-wide?
The Najib administration can ban the disgraceful footage from being aired on television stations but can they ban the playing of the footage in Malaysian homes or being viewed by millions of people world-wide?
Just as the book-banning of tyrants and repressive regimes of olden ages had failed, the banning of video footages, snatching of lap-tops, video players and mobile phones are also destined to failure – as truth can never be suppressed.
The ban on television stations from airing of video footage of Sivakumar being physically dragged out of the Assembly is the latest charade in the four-month Perak constitutional and political crisis which has produced two Mentris Besar, two Speakers, an illegitimate State Secretary, an illegitimate State Legal Adviser and an illegitimate Assembly clerk.
The Perak charade scaled even more ridiculous heights in the past 24 hours, when Perak was plunged into a total limbo, without a Mentri Besar, as Datuk Seri Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin, the lawful and legitimate MB confirmed by the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Monday, has been “stayed” from exercising his powers and responsibilities, while Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir, the usurper, unlawful and illegitimate MB, could not be deemed to be licenced by a single-judge Court of Appeal to continue to act illegally.
Zambry has the presumption and impertinence to liken himself to Gandhi and Zambry, not realizing that Gandhi would not have countenanced any illegal and unlawful usurpation of power for a second and would have told Zambry to go to the court of the people to seek legitimacy to rule.