Journalism Ala "Malaysia Boleh"
Baloney is the word to describe freedom of the press in Malaysia. What freedom are the editors of Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian, New Straits Times, etc. referring to when skewed reports, half-truths, out-of-context statements and its ilks are the order
of the day. Facts of an incident which are unfavorable to the ruling governement are irrelevant in Malaysian newspapers. On the other hand, facts will be distorted to paint unfavorable picture against the political enemies of the ruling leaders. As selective prosecution is the modus operandi in the judiciary, the same selectivity is being operated in the world of journalism in Malaysia.
Since the coup on DSAI last year, contrary to the hopes of Mahatir and his fellow conspirators, Malaysians are not letting the case of DSAI being swept under the carpet. DSAI's case has never been forgotten by Malaysians who has any conscious in them. Notwithstanding the farce case against him, the 1st judgement on him, and all the comical "evidence" and "witnesses," Malaysians by and large do not believe that DSAI is guilty of the charges. Only the heartless and fanatics to the ruling leaders will buy the case against DSAI.
So what does the subservient local papers report on the case of DSAI? Rather than reporting on substantial facts, they dwell on skewed sensationalism with the malicious intention of turning public opinion against DSAI and his supporters. Whatever ethics of
journalism these reporters and editors acquire while in college, if they ever went, are thrown out. Instead, they feast on relentless propaganda of damaging the credibility and personality of DSAI. Echoing the unsubstantiated two-bits comments of Mahatir and his boneless/ball-less ministers is a preoccupation of the editorial board of Malaysian newspapers. The only headlines worthy of putting out regarding DSAI are those that will have negative implications against the poor man. News that he has been beaten whilst in prison, that he has a high dosage of arsenic poison in his body, that the manner he was being arrested was as though he was a terrorist, to list a few - all these are deemed not news worthy. What is worthy of a headline is when some source, any source for that matter, prematurely said that DSAI has no significant poison level in his body. This is one of the examples of the vicious selectiveness of Malaysian journalism.
Fortunately, gone are the days where Malaysians are gullible to the propaganda machine of the ruling government. While we have no hope (yet) of getting dissenting views on the radio and TV, we at least have the chance to read Harakah, Rocket, etc. We do, however, have to admit the impact will not be as great had it been aired and reported on the mainstream papers. These papers, like it or not, are almost like an institution in our society. Malaysians cannot escape their visibility and presence.
However, despair not, for Malaysians are educated, sophisticated and sensitive to smell the double standard and hypocrisy of the editorial board. The fault lies squarely on the editorial board, because at the end of the day, it is they who will decide what should be printed. Reporters are pretty much at the mercy of their bosses. Though we can appreciate the dilemma of our local reporters, but after a while it should dawn upon them that enough is enough, and they should expose their bosses for who and what they really are - a bunch of hypocrites with no sense of journalistic ethics in them.
While the leaders pride themselves as being Muslims, they exhibit little of the quality of what Islam demands from them, especially in regards to fairplay. While these leaders get a superficial sense of satisfaction (in psychology this is called transference) in bashing the immorality of the Western culture and mores, at least in terms of transparency the latter is more akin to Islamic practices than these so-called Muslim leaders of Malaysia. The editors of western papers do take a stand on issues, they are not impartial. However, as far as reporting facts as facts, giving all parties equal time, not censoring dissenting views towards the ruling party - all these are the hallmarks of authentic journalism, which parallel to the ethics of Islam. Can we assume that these practices are being carried out by our local papers and its Muslim chief editors?
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