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And Some Stellar NST Journalism May 5, 2007

Posted by Tim in Malaysia.
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NST reminds us today why it is best used as fish wrapping. While the National Union of Journalists Malaysia recommends that bloggers be recognized as alternative media in disseminating information; while the latest concern in cyberspace is press freedom in Malaysia being rated lower than Cambodia, Phillipines, and East Timor; and while BN and PKR both analyze the Ijok outcome; NST instead runs a commentary by Rehman Rashid (who you may remember as the journalist who said that all bloggers couldn’t differentiate opinions from rectums [Update: NST took the original article down; the link is to Susan Loone’s comment on it], and also wrote an unintentionally funny response highlighting his pompousness ). This time the title is “The Great Unspoken National Contract“. [UPDATE: The article has been taken down from NST Online. You can view Google’s cache of it though]

He leads: “So is it true that the Chinese electorate in the past two by-elections showed they were unhappy with the government? Well, take a number and get in line.”

He claims race has “nothing to do with it”, and tells us that:

“If it is true that the Chinese remain upset with, for instance, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein’s infamous keris-waving at the last Umno general assembly, surely it cannot be for anything worse than a breach of protocol. It was an act perceived as not so much belligerent or threatening as ill-mannered.”

Ill-mannered! Right. Thanks for telling me what I think about it. Next time he brandishes it and tells us not to question the rights of Malays, we should all just be shaking our heads saying “Tsk, tsk, so impolite”. Nothing racial about it either, sure!

To him, everyone is only on a quest to cari makan. We should not pursue happiness, he says:

Most of us would be happy enough with survival, the basic criteria of which seem to be getting what we want and keeping what we have. The hard-headed pragmatism that has seen us through 50 years of theoretically impossible nationhood has matured (albeit in the sense of cheese, a form of decomposition) into a thick mucilage of cynicism and apathy.

He ends by telling us it is all effectively futile, that we only perpetuate the cycle:

It works, more or less. A government is returned, salient messages nailed to its shirt-tails. Things get done, somehow, someday. Everyone has their say, somehow, some way. Food is found, the world turns round, and everyone lives to fight another day.

It’s what you call the Malaysian Way.

It’s one thing to have “journalists” who write fawning articles for the Government; you at least know what they stand for. But this is just plain sad. The phrase “apathetic journalist” should be an oxymoron. Yes, a piece like this wouldn’t be out of space in – ironically – some online blog. But publishing a defeatist article like this now is just needless self-indulgence.

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