Thursday, April 20, 2006

'Mahathirism' in Umno's post-Mahathir media

Early this morning (20 April), I read newspapers in Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and English over a glass of teh halia kurang (x10) manis in a mamak stall nearby. In today's New Straits Times, Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian, I found not a word of Anwar Ibrahim's statement expressing support for the right thing PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has done on the "crooked" or "scenic" bridge. I may be wrong in my check because the news may be buried somewhere in the sport or education supplements. So, tell me if you have come across the item in the New Straits Times, Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian.

My earlier entry Tun Dr. Mahathir on media independence (18, April) may help you to explore the discrepancy between appearance and reality, or between new bottle and old wine:

Today's New Straits Times quoted ex-PM Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as saying: "During my time, (Anwar Ibrahim) demonstrations were reported. We never rang up the Press to tell them not to report. We do not ring up the Press".

Quite naturally, many people just cannot believe what Tun has been quoted as saying on his record on this particular issue of press freedom because the impression has been too deeply imprinted on the popular minds that Tun had been a "dictator" as far as media independence is concerned because, among other incidents, Sin Chew Jit Poh, The Star and Watan were closed down by executive order of the Home Minister in 1987-1988 and malaysiakini's office raided by the police in early 2003.

Could it be that Tun himself, as both Prime Minister for 23 years and Home Minister for 15 years, did not actually ring up the top editors himself but only give instructions to other to do the dirty job?

Or, there were other Umno, MCA, MIC or Gerakan politicians and over-zealous minions with over-inflated sense of self-importance unilaterally interfering into media independence by citing the authority of Tun without his knowledge, approval or instruction in a manner not unlike some snake-oil or magic-stones peddlers citing the authority of "God" to enhance their credential and credibility to some less educated aunties, uncles, makcik-makcik or pakcik-pakcik who are eager to find medicines to cure their illnesses and enhance chances of striking empat ekor?

Or, it was because some media owners or secretly pro-MCA, pro-MIC, pro-Gerakan or pro-SUPP editors themselves decided for self-censorship to serve their own business, partisan or personal interests but gave other (especially junior journalists, investors, readers and the public) the false excuse that they were "oppressed " by Tun when he was the prime minister and home minister so that their hidden agenda would not be exposed?

How different is the situation now as compared to Tun's time, especially in view of the fact that neither Dr. Mahathir nor Pak Lah read Chinese or Tamil? Do kucing kurap politicians, media owners and top editors nowadays still falsely cite the authority of the current Prime Minister without his knowledge, approval or instruction to cheat junior journalists, investors, readers and the public in serving their own business, partisan or personal agenda? Is Pak Lah outside and above the system?

Anwar: Blunders began with Mahathir

PKR pushes ministry for permit


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