Malaysia is today a greater news in the world than in the country, for three reasons:
Firstly, there is media control and censorship in the country.
Secondly, the arrest of two Australian journalists from ABC Four Corners programme for “aggressively” posing questions to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak in Kuching.
Thirdly, catapulting Sarawak general elections into international news even before the dissolution of the Sarawak State Assemby and the holding of Sarawak state general elections, as Najib was in Kuching to carry out pre-dissolution general election campaign.
I have just read the report that the Attorney-General’s Chambers is considering action against the two ABC News journalists , reporter Linton Besser and camera operator Louis Eroglu, who were in Malaysia to investigate a local corruption scandal and who have had their passports seized despite being released after questioning yesterday.
They were previously detained for allegedly approaching the Prime Minister aggressively.
I am horrified by the very clumsy and ham-fisted manner in handling the case of the ABC Four Corners journalists.
Is there no better way of handling this matter without elevating it into an international sensation?
The root cause of this unnecessary international scaandal for Malaysia is not so much the Australian journalists breaching the Prime Minister’s so-called “security line”, which is a very weak excuse, but Najib’s incorrigible refusal to come clean and full to answer the multiplying questions about Najib’s twin mega scandals.
The most sensible solution is to cut the losses from very clumsy mishandling of the issue, allow the Australian journalists to return home to Australia instead of forcing them to remain in Malaysia, and most important of all, a review to change the Prime Minister’s PR policy and attitude which prioritises openness, accountability and transparency instead of erecting wall after wall of silence and secrecy on Najib’s twin mega scandals.
Most important of all, Najib should not regard independent and professional journalists as enemies but co-opt them in the mission to create an open and transparent and accountable world.
(Speech at the DAP Perlis “Mana Rm2.6 billion?” ceramah kopitiam at Pau, Arau, Perlis on Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 4 pm)