April 27, 2012
Looking Back @BERSIH2.0
by Political Observer
Last year the Bersih rally was a complete and utter disaster for the UMNO-BN government. The arrest of 2000 people and use of excessive force on so many left UMNO in an unenviable position with 2011 being the year of the Arab Spring. Immediately after the demonstration Prime Minister Najib Razak held an interview with CNN International Host John Defterios.
(Remember that since this interview was conducted it was revealed that FBC communications, the company that John Defterios was the Vice President of) had been hired by the Government of Malaysia to place favorable content about the country in major international news outlets. BBC formally apologized for airing content that was essentially paid-for advertising by the Malaysian government. CNBC and CNN International have not admitting to any wrong doing, although the extent to which corporate sponsors fund those two organizations is fairly obvious and well known.)
In the soft-ball interview at around 2:00 in Defterios asks Najib about the demonstrations in Malaysia. Rather than make reference to the Police brutality, arrests, use of tear gas and water cannons, possible attack on a hospital, Defterios decided to completely shirk his journalistic responsibility and tossed a softball to Najib. Defterios’ demeanor also suggests he’s somewhat mocking or belittling the BBERSIH movement.
Najib was then able to completely evade the issue and say that Malaysia is a democracy and the fact that UMNO lost 5 states in the 2008 general election is enough evidence as such.
Defterios, rather than follow up with what was obviously the most important story of the day vis-a-vis Malaysia, and even raise some of the points BERSIH was demanding.The most hilarious part is immediately after airing clips of tear gas, water canon and police officers beating up demonstrators, Najib is asked if he was satisfied with the security response and he says,
‘It was quite mild…because although they were taken in…they were released after eight hours and they were treated very well. There was no undue use of force and the demonstrators were dispersed using minimum force.”
Such comical detachment from reality can only remind us of the classic moment from BERSIH1.0 when Information Minister ZAM was on Al Jazeera opposite Anwar Ibrahim responding to questions about the use of force in 2007:
There seems to be a pattern emerging of Malaysian government spokespersons looking quite foolish on international media news broadcasts.