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Why Malaysia’s mainstream media doesn’t cut it March 16, 2007

Posted by Tim in Malaysia, Thoughts.
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I’ll begin with Rehman Rashid’s impossibly wordy piece in the NST on why blogging is bad. Only towards the end does he finally start to make his point:

…The local blogosphere is the domain of life-challenged grumblestiltskins and disenfranchised pundits whose asinine maunderings only show why they should never have had day jobs in the first place.

Rumour, innuendo, half-truths and damned lies are their stock- in-trade, and previously sacrosanct standards, principles and ethics are now laughable.

Are they not entitled to their opinion? Of course they are, as much as everyone else is entitled to ignore them. I would venture, however, that everyone has an opinion and a rectum, and not that many seem capable of telling one from the other.

Before we respond to that I’ll bring up another issue, the one that’s provoked a storm of controversy in the blogosphere.

First we pick up a story from today’s Star, titled “Adnan: I was referring to Indon journalist“:

KUALA LUMPUR: Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor has clarified that he did not label all women bloggers as liars.

“In fact, most of my supporters in my constituency are women.”

He said his statement was specifically made in reference to an Indonesian journalist who wrote in her blog about the ministry’s inefficiency.

He was speaking to reporters after announcing the sponsors and prizes of the NPC-Celcom Visit Malaysia 2007 treasure hunt here yesterday.

He was asked to comment about the recent controversy which started when Tengku Adnan allegedly referred to bloggers as liars and were mostly jobless women.

Many women’s groups criticised him for making the statement.

Tengku Adnan said he loved “all women” and was “here because of a woman.”

“In fact, most of my supporters in my constituency are women,” he said.

Reading it carefully, you get the following impressions:

  • He “allegedly” made a controversial remark about bloggers and women.
  • His statement was actually made specifically towards an Indonesian journalist who criticized his ministry.
    (for the lowdown on that, see Wong Chun Wai of the Star‘s editorial, and the journalist’s blog)

To someone who reads only The Star (because seriously, who even looks at NST‘s headlines any more?), nothing appears to be out of place. The hardworking minister in charge of VM 2007 has been misunderstood and he’s clarifying things, right?

You couldn’t be more wrong.

Tengku Adnan’s actual comments were first published by Sin Chew Jit Poh and translated into English by Jeremiah Foo (all emphasis in the excerpt below added by me):

All bloggers are liars, they cheat people using all kinds of methods. From my understanding, out of 10,000 unemployed bloggers, 8,000 are women.”

All bloggers are not in favour of national unity. Our country has been successful because we are very tolerant with each other, if not, there will be civil war, the Malays will kill the Chinese, the Chinese will take revenge and kill the Malays, and the Indian will kill everyone.”

He urged the rakyat not to simply trust bloggers, and gamble our future away because the achievement we gain in the 50 years of independence is not an easy task.

“We have to show the world our positive attitude, if the world learn to be as tolerant as us, the world will be peaceful, without war or civil war.”

Oh, and he happened to made this tirade on International Women’s Day. Can you wonder why the Malaysian blogosphere, especially the female bloggers, exploded in disgust and indignance? See Rocky’s bru, Elizabeth Wong, Susan Loone, Kak Teh, kickdefella etc for an idea of the response; heck see Bloggers’ Solidarity for a list of “liars”.

Many others have already done a good job of berating Tengku Adnan for his bigoted, misogynic remarks however. My beef is with the mainstream press.

Why the blackout on his original remarks? Without them, publishing a “clarification” has no meaning – other than to mislead the public.

  • If his remarks were really specifically made in reference to an Indonesian journalist who wrote in her blog about the ministry’s inefficiency…Why is it he says 10,000 bloggers? How is “10,000” specific? Why does he make half-assed speculation about racial unity? Does he read 10,000 Indonesian blogs?
  • If you write that his remarks allegedly referred to bloggers as liars and were mostly jobless women….You are implying that he may have been misquoted or misunderstood, or that the Sin Chew is lying. But we can all see for ourselves that he said what he said. Do you not know how to use the word “allegedly”?

Who’s the one peddling “half-truth” and “damned lies” here? Whose “ethics” are “laughable”? You tell me. (Well, at least the Star published something. The NST pretended it never happened. I guess they think “no truth” is better than “half truth”).

And you wonder why an increasing number of Malaysians have lost faith in the mainstream press, preferring the alternative media to get the uncensored, unsanitated news? How do we know whether the ones who represent us are doing their job, when you profess only undulating adoration?

But hey don’t trust me – I’m a liar.

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