Malaysia’s Bernama in Apparent Plagiarism of JG Election Stories

July 7, 2014

Malaysia’s Bernama in Apparent Plagiarism of JG Election Stories

By Jakarta Globe on 11:15 pm Jul 06, 2014


Jakarta. Malaysia’s national news agency, Bernama, was found to have plagiarized, word for word, two articles that were published by the Jakarta Globe.

On Saturday, July 5, as part of its live coverage of the fifth and final presidential debate, the Globe published an article on its website titled “In Closing Debate, Joko Promises Bureaucratic ‘Breakthrough,’ While Prabowo Strives for ‘A Dignified Nation.’”

The following day, it was discovered that Bernama had published a similar article titled, “Joko Promises Bureaucratic ‘Breakthrough,’ While Prabowo Strives for ‘A Dignified Nation.’”

The Malaysian news agency had copied the Globe’s piece verbatim, attributing one of the many quotes in the article to this newspaper.Bernama also removed the names of Globe reporters Josua Gantan and Andrea Wijaya, the original authors of the story, replacing the byline with what is assumed to be the name of a Bernama journalist, Elmi Rizal Alias.

On the same day, Singapore-based Channel News Asia republished the plagiarized article on its website. The piece, however, had been renamed, “Indonesia Election: Jokowi, Prabowo Face Off in Final TV Debate.”

Not the first time

Upon further investigation, it was discovered that Monday’s discovery was not the first time Bernama drew “inspiration” from the Globe.On July 1, following the fourth debate, the Globe uploaded an article on its website titled “Hatta Says Indonesia Should Take Advantage of Its ‘Demographic Bonus.’”The same story was found on Bernama’s website with the slightly altered title “Indonesia Should Take Advantage  of Its ‘Demographic Bonus’ — Hatta.”

Similarly, the Malaysian news agency  only attributed one of the article’s many quotes to the Globe, and replaced the original reporter’s name — Basten Gokkon — with that of the elusive Elmi Rizal Alias.

The Globe made  numerous attempts to contact and seek clarification from Bernama on Sunday. However, the news agency was not immediately available to give comment on the matter.


Serious violation

Wina Armada, a member of the Indonesian Press Council and an expert in press law from the University of Indonesia, told the Globe that the incident amounted to “a serious violation of [Indonesia’s] copyright laws.”

“For a case like this, the law is such that even if the disadvantaged party does not file a police report about the incident, the police can still take action against the perpetrator,” Wina said.

“If it is true that [the Bernama reporter] has plagiarized [the Globe’s articles], according to Indonesian laws, the Malaysian journalist can be [charged and] imprisoned,” he said.Wina added that the incident was particularly regrettable as Bernama was the official news agency for the Malaysian government, under its Ministry of Communication and Multimedia.

“From a journalistic point of view, this is a serious violation of the journalistic code of ethics. This is not professional journalism,” he said. “Moreover, this is not only partial [plagiarism] — the whole [article] has been plagiarized. Plagiarism is a very basic error in journalism. If this is true, the perpetrator should not be allowed to continue his profession as a journalist.

“This should not be condoned. In journalism, upholding credibility and honesty should be number one,” Wina added.

Hikmahanto Juwana, an international law expert from the University of Indonesia, similarly told the Globe that the incident was regrettable.“They even changed the [Globe] reporters’ names,” Hikmahanto said. “Perhaps [Bernama’s] reporter ran out of news, that’s why he took news [from the Globe].”

In response to the incident, Ruhut Sitompul, a legislator and a member of the legal affairs commission at the Indonesian House of Representatives, said Bernama ought to be “sued for the matter.”“Legal action should be taken against its representative in Indonesia,” Ruhut told the Globe.

Read THIS:

Defamation Suit: Najib vs. Malaysiakini

June 6, 2014

Defamation Suit: Najib vs. Malaysiakini

by Josh

Najib at the Press ClubFinally, it has dawned on Najib Abdul Razak that Malaysiakini readers are not worth winning over and he is now going for the jugular by serving the news portal a writ of summons over defamation.

This is the man who, upon assuming the highest political office in the country five years ago, conceded that “the days the government knows best are over”, and went on to introduce a host of ‘reformist’ measures.

He also declared unashamedly that he would make Malaysia ‘the best democracy in the world’. But what evolved in the years after has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that Najib had promised Malaysians gems but delivered worse than pebbles.

Indeed, he abolished the infamous Internal Security Act, but has kept intact, rather cunningly, the Sedition Act which was supposed to be also repealed.

Had Najib been sincere in any reform agenda, his administration would have been refrained from using the Sedition Act pending its replacement. Instead, Mat Shuhaimi Shafiei, the Sri Muda assemblyperson, is still fighting his case at the Federal Court, while Teresa Kok became the latest victim over her, okay, not-so-tasteful Chinese New Year video clip.

Much as I detest the arbitrary law, it remains morally outrageous to see the UMNO-friendly individuals – from Ibrahim Ali, Zulkifli Noordin, Ridhuan Tee to the Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) clowns – above it. The shameless double standard only debunks further the myth of national unity as Najib has mendaciously pledged.

Still, the mainstream newspapers praised him to the skies back in April 2009 as if Malaysia’s elevation to a full democracy was nigh. Just look at Tay Tian Yan of Sin Chew Daily who wrote unabashedly of Najib as being “confident and capable… ready to be a Prime Minister for all Malaysians”. Yes, go laugh your head off before reading on.

But Najib’s desperate move only exposes his vulnerability within the party. When he sought to exert his authority as party president and prime minister by removing Ahmad Said from office, the former Terengganu Chief Mminister pulled off a last-minute coup over, amusingly, his daughter’s wedding.

Prior to that, Najib had come under enormous pressure from the ultras within the party and a vengeful Mahathir Mohamad from without. His inability to rein in Ahmad Said is just another indicator of his untenable position, and so livid was he that he decided to punish Malaysiakini for his own failings.

Waging war with all parties except…

Truth be told, it is UMNO’s mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia that has been churning out defamatory stories and waging war with all parties except its own political masters.

For DAP, is it ‘a Christian agenda’; for PKR, it is ‘DAP’s poodle’; for PAS, it is ‘selling out the Malays’, for Nurul Izzah Anwar, it is ‘apostasy’; for Ambiga Sreenevasan, it is ‘a threat to Islam’; for Anwar Ibrahim, it is ‘sexual deviation’; for Malaysiakini, it is ‘the habit of defaming others’ and, for peace-loving Malaysians who took part in the Bersih rallies, what else but a bunch of ‘samseng’ who came with ‘knives, guns and stones with an intention to kill’!

If there is one person who should feel the righteous wrath at being insulted, humiliated and defamed on a daily basis, it should be the ordinary Malaysian who is yearning for change but is made to suffer all the innuendos and racist statements at the hands of Utusan and other UMNO-controlled media, on which Najib has been conspicuous by his silence.

And Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK – right) has the nerve to accuse Malaysians of humbuggery in acquiescing to Anwar’s lawsuits against those who have defamed him.

I am pretty certain RPK has sold his soul to the devil and now chosen to see only what he wants to see. Anwar, or any potential rivals to UMNO for that matter, is compelled to resort to court to clear his name precisely because his right of reply is persistently denied and even suppressed by the powers-that-be.

By contrast, not only that Malaysiakini has afforded Najib a right of reply, but UMNO has also the entire state machinery to rebut and even distort whatever that is reported by online portals. Can RPK who is purportedly wise and discerning not see the crucial difference?

Be that as it may, the public should welcome Najib’s lawsuit, for it will once and for all shatter his image as a pseudo-democrat. I would say: Bring it on, Najib, but make sure you will not be dodging critical questions in court. After all, it is you and your government that will be put on trial for the whole world to see, your advantage of having some malleable judges on your side notwithstanding.

*JOSH HONG studied politics at London Metropolitan University and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. A keen watcher of domestic and international politics, he longs for a day when Malaysians will learn and master the art of self-mockery, and enjoy life to the full in spite of politicians.

MH370 exposes Hall of Shame

April 8, 2015

MH 370 Exposes Hall of Fame

By Mariam Mokhtar @

The grand self-proclamation of “Malaysia, the Best Democracy in the World”, with its fantastic education system which rivals the British, American and German systems is a myth designed for die-hard UMNO Baru supporters. This fairy-tale was shattered by the disappearance of MH370.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s “best democracy in the world” claim with Malaysia’s 2014 Press Freedom Index falling to the lowest point in nation’s history, even below that of Myanmar.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s “best democracy in the world” claim with Malaysia’s 2014 Press Freedom Index falling to the lowest point in nation’s history, even below that of Myanmar.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, like the prime ministers before him, has let down the nation, but the investigation into MH370 has trashed Malaysia’s reputation.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said Malaysia’s democracy is best in the world.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said Malaysia’s democracy is best in the world.

We need a cull of the political class to regain our credibility as a nation. We should start with the following initiates of the ‘Hall of Shame’. Politicians head the list, then civil servants. If the civil servants were to be replaced before the politicians, the new ones would be corrupted by their political masters, who dictate to them.

Malaysia has been on auto-pilot for several decades and the nation has been performing like a rudderless aeroplane. MH370 signals the beginning of the end of UMNO Baru.

The Malaysian Hall of Shame

Number One: Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak. Two words describe the MH370 “investigations”: Mismanaged. Mishandled. (MM).

The Malaysian authorities have come under fire following conflicting accounts on the last known position of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 before it went missing.

The Malaysian authorities have come under fire following conflicting accounts on the last known position of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 before it went missing.

MH370 may have been an unprecedented incident but the crisis management team was shambolic, with several people issuing contradictory official statements. Our confidence and trust have been shaken to the core despite all the big talk and the hundreds of billions of ringgits spent on military hardware and sophisticated equipment. We may have the best machinery that money can buy, but are monkeys operating them?

In the first few days of MH370’s disappearance, Najib and his wife,Rosmah Mansor, the self-styled ‘First Lady of Malaysia’ (FLOM), sought to gain cheap publicity by “weeping with the families of the passengers and crew of MH370”.

Did Najib make a premature announcement that MH370 had crashed into the Southern Indian Ocean, based on one mathematical interpretation by one company? The local press are conditioned not to ask awkward questions but foreign journalists demand answers.

Number Two: Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. Hishammuddin justified Malaysia’s mismanagement of the MH370 investigations by saying that history will judge Malaysia well.

Putrajaya refused today to brief Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs on the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, even after the opposition coalition submitted a formal request as required by a minister previously.

Putrajaya refused today to brief Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs on the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, even after the opposition coalition submitted a formal request as required by a minister previously.

People ask, “Who writes the history books if not the Malaysian cabinet and their proteges?” Hishammuddin told the families of passengers and crew of MH370 that miracles do happen. The act of giving false hope is as bad as trading on people’s grief.

Number Three: Home Minister Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. His response to the stolen passport fiasco at KLIA is symptomatic of a sick nation. He told Parliament, “Furthermore, Interpol’s information of lost (passports) may slow down the process of immigration checks at counters.” Zahid prefers speed to efficiency and safety/security concerns. Interpol has since given Zahid a dressing down and said the checks take 0.2 seconds per passport.

Malaysia is a hub for human trafficking and people have alleged that our Police andIimmigration officials are involved. Will Zahid clean up his department?

Number Four: Deputy Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Bakri. Abdul Rahim told Parliament that the RMAF “assumed” that Flight MH370 had been ordered to turn back by the civilian air traffic controllers.Following a public outcry, he backpedalled and said that HE had made this assumption. So did the RMAF make this assumption or was Abdul Rahim forced to retract his statement. His U-turn is typical of the tactics of the government of Malaysia.

Lack of communication

Number Five: The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) Director-General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman. Azharuddin contradicted the statements of the Home Ministry and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP Khalid Ashburn). More worrying than this is the lack of communication between the military and civil aviation authorities.

From "alright good night" to "goodnight Malaysian three seven zero"  ??

From “alright good night” to “goodnight Malaysian three seven zero” ??

The MH370 investigation has lacked transparency and is mired in intrigue. This incident has reminded us of the question, by the Opposition MP Nurul Izzah Anwar in June 2012, about the roles of the DCA and the Transport Ministry in the award of the contract for the supply of the RM128.4 million air traffic control system to a Minister’s family through “closed tender”.

According to a company search produced by the lawmaker, AAT is half owned by Tirai Variasi, whose largest shareholder is Ikwan Hafiz Jamaluddin, the son of Datuk Seri Jamaluddin Jarjis, who is now Special Envoy to the United States with ministerial status.

According to a company search produced by the lawmaker, AAT is half owned by Tirai Variasi, whose largest shareholder is Ikwan Hafiz Jamaluddin, the son of Datuk Seri Jamaluddin Jarjis, who is now Special Envoy to the United States with ministerial status.

Three weeks ago, we were told that the final words from the cockpit were “All right, good night”. In the past few days, the DCA issued a correction and said the final words were “Good night. Malaysian Three-Seven-Zero”.

How can the public be expected to put their faith in the DCA or the investigative bodies with such a simple error as this? So what else is wrong?

Number Six: MAS CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya. When the reputations of the pilot and co-pilot on MH370 were being trashed, Ahmad Jauhari (right) failed to defend his men. Although he did speak on their behalf, he waited several days and the damage was already done. His failure to act immediately demoralised all of the MAS employees.

The sending of a text message to the families of the passengers and crew of MH370, ahead of Najib’s announcement that MH370 had gone down in the southern Indian Ocean, is symptomatic of the poor customer relations in MAS. Many people have previously stated that their complaints are rarely acknowledged or addressed.

Number Seven: Chief of the Armed Forces Zulkifeli Mohd Zin (He should be asked to retire gracefully). He despatched ships from Lumut on the night MH370 disappeared. He then claimed that a C-130 plane was sent to scout the area the following morning.

What made Zulkifeli confident that he was scouring a potential crash site, thousands of kilometres from where Najib had directed others in the search and rescue (SAR) operations? Is Zulkifeli hiding something from us?

It took four days to wake up and reveal this. Not surprising when the army is more concerned on indelible inks !!

It took four days to wake up and reveal this. Not surprising when the army is more concerned on indelible inks !!

Number Eight: Chief of the RMAF Rodzali Daud (He should be sacked). An unidentified plane was picked up by military radar around 200 nautical miles northwest of Penang in the Straits of Malacca, at about the time MH370 went missing. The military failed to act on this information, wasting both time and opportunity.

Number Nine: IGP Khalid Abu Bakar aka Khalid Ashburn. When asked about the contradictory descriptions of the men using stolen passports, a dismissive Khalid said, “Why ask me? Ask Immigration, or ask Interpol.”

The Defence Minister asked everyone to avoid speculation, but Khalid said that his policemen were analysing all the speculation on the Internet to help in the MH370 investigations. The IGP should focus on facts, rather than investigating speculation and rumour. He should chase criminals, rather than hound opposition politicians and NGOs.

Number Ten: Witch-doctor Ibrahim Mat Zain, or Raja Bomoh. This shaman heaped ridicule on the country when, at the entrance to KLIA, he used his bamboo binoculars and two coconuts to divine that MH370 had been hijacked by elves and the plane was either suspended in mid-air or had crashed into the sea. He should be jailed if he refuses to say who sent him to KLIA, to mock the suffering of the passengers and crew of MH370.

Bonus: It is reported that Najib’s favourite number is 11. When former PM Mahathir Mohamad resigned, he continued to make his presence felt by refusing to hand over the controls of the airship Malaysia, which he was flying to mediocrity. Mahathir completes the list by being the eleventh member of Malaysia’s Hall of Shame.


MARIAM MOKHTAR, is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Utusan reaches new heights of absurdity

April 7, 2014

 Utusan reaches new heights of absurdity

By John Malott*

malott1It is shocking to see that an Assistant Editor of Utusan Malaysia has written that the 9-11 attacks were planned by the CIA, and that the agency could also be behind the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

It is yet another example that Utusan has become the laughing stock of Malaysian journalism, given to fabrication, conspiracy theories, paranoia, extremism, and racism. Just think of all the libel suits that it has lost in the past two years. Think of its declining circulation, as readers grow weary of propaganda that tries to pass as news.

But Utusan is not just any newspaper. It is owned by UMNO, Malaysia’s rulingnajib-razak1 party, whose President is Najib Abdul Razak. UMNO and its President traditionally have provided editorial guidance and supervision to Utusan.

So what say you, Najib? You will soon be welcoming President Barack Obama to Malaysia. Are you going to let this absurb statement in “your” newspaper stand? Or will you speak out – and denounce this nonsense – before Obama comes?

When Utusan had its screaming headline after the 13th GE, ‘Apa Lagi Cina Mahu’, Najib defended the paper. Then just a few months later, he told government-linked companies that they should buy more advertisements in Utusan in order to aid the newspaper financially.

Will Najib react differently this time? Washington certainly will take note of the editorial comment in this UMNO newspaper, and will be waiting to see if there is a reaction from Najib and his government.

* John Malott was former US Ambassador to Malaysia and friend of Malaysia



UMNO’s Saifuddin calls for removal of Election Commission Chief!

by Eileen Ng
JANUARY 14, 2014

 Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, speaking at a forum on electoral forum yesterday, says the Election Commission needs a new chairman who is not beholden to Barisan Nasional. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, January 14, 2014.

Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, speaking at a forum on electoral forum yesterday, says the Election Commission needs a new chairman who is not beholden to Barisan Nasional. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, January 14, 2014.

Umno’s Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah has joined the chorus calling for the removal of the Election Commission (EC) members, especially its chief, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof.

He said there was a need for a new EC chairman, who was impartial, in the wake of the public’s loss of confidence in the commission.

“We need someone who is passionate, independent and who does not say things on behalf of BN,” he said, referring to the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional. “You are not helping BN anyway,” he said at an electoral forum last night.

Newly elected chairperson of electoral reform coalition Bersih 2.0 Maria Chin Abdullah had called for the removal of all EC members, citing loss of confidence.

She had said a petition drive would be launched to be delivered to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

The statement came in the wake of an admission by former EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman that past redelineation exercises were designed to keep certain parties in power.

Abdul Rashid led the EC in managing six out of the 13 general elections, as well as four redelineation exercises.

Saifuddin, who is CEO of the Global Movement of Moderates Foundation, said a more independent EC would enable both BN and the opposition Pakatan Rakyat pact to come together to negotiate on the proposed redelineation exercise.

PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli said the people had talked about reforming the EC for years and had even taken to the streets in support of electoral reforms.

He agreed that both Abdul Aziz and his deputy, Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, needed to be removed but noted that there was a “total mobilisation” by BN in defence of the two officials.

Rafizi said the lack of response from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to Abdul Rashid’s admission was a manifestation of how BN was retreating instead of going forward towards bipartisanship to strengthen democratic institutions.

On the redelineation exercise, the first-term Pandan MP said PKR’s stand was that it should be done on a basis that ensured equitability and fairness rather than the number of seats.

“Any change has to be structural in nature. The dissatisfaction is not in the number of seats but how the seats were gerrymandered in such a way that Parliament does not represent the voices on the ground.”

He said the matter could only be resolved if all political parties agreed on an acceptance variance on the size of constituencies and an assurance that minority interests would be looked after.

Meredith L Weiss, visiting associate professor in Southeast Asia Studies at John Hopkins University, suggested that there was a need to come up with a mechanism on campaign financing to enable the EC to monitor not just candidates’ spending during general elections but also those who are donating to their campaigns.

Social activist Hishammuddin Rais alleged that the EC was doing a “con job” and that Pakatan Rakyat or any other alternative force would never win the general election if the same structure was in place.

“We need to change this,” he said.

Arshad Ayub: Liberator of the Malay Psyche

January 4, 2013

Arshad Ayub: Liberator of the Malay Psyche

by Dr A. Murad Merican@

Tan Sri Arshad Ayub with FriendsTan Sri Arshad Ayub and Friends

WHEN Tan Sri Arshad Ayub visited Ohio University at Athens, Ohio, on June 23, 1970, he made known his interest in establishing a journalism and communications programme at the then Institut Teknologi Mara (ITM). The early syllabus was based on language, liberal arts and professional specialisation.

Even before he visited Ohio’s College of Communication and its School of Journalism, Tan Sri Arshad had advocated the teaching of journalism in Malaysian higher education as far back as the mid-1960s.

Graduates from what began as the School of Mass Communication (popularly known in Bahasa Melayu as Kajian Sebaran Am) and now the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, should realise that their intellectual “father” is Tan Sri Arshad Ayub.

This dawned upon me while researching the beginnings of journalism education in Malaysia some years ago at Universiti Teknologi Mara archives. I met Tan Sri Arshad on several occasions. Once, we were on the same panel on the topic of education in Malaysia, and the other, having the honour of the man chairing a session in a seminar where I delivered a paper on life-long learning.

Many know of Tan Sri Arshad as a pioneering educationist. He was instrumental in ITM’s growth. He was a paradigm basher. He opened up minds, identities and values. Many know him as a task master.

But perhaps not many know him as an early advocate of the liberal arts and the humanities in Malaysian higher education. He introduced Russian, French and Arabic. Mandarin was made compulsory for business courses, and Tamil for plantation management. Then there was Logic, Literature, and History.

In one of his speeches some years back, Tan Sri Arshad stated that education is not a special copyright of any one individual organisation. It knows no boundaries. And there was no boundary when he was nurturing ITM back then. He was given a free hand to plant the seeds of education for the rural Malay: “The ‘how-to’ was entirely up to me.”

With the trust and vision for the future of the Malays given to him by Tun Abdul Tun Abdul RazakRazak, Arshad’s slogan for action was: “Just do it.” There was not enough time to think of a formal education system as it evolved. He reflected that the expansion was “too rapid that thoughts for a real system came after the deed”.

He attributed the brilliance in the vision of social engineering to Tun Razak. Tan Sri Arshad was not only the strategist, but also the thinker. He once recalled Tun Razak’s message in the first issue of Utusan Pelajar, an Utusan Melayu publication in 1970. Tun Razak stated that “The present young Malaysian must be developed into a scientific race.” The words “scientific race” caught Tan Sri Arshad’s attention.

Tan Sri Arshad takes the term “scientific” to mean “educated” — middle-class professionals and entrepreneurs that could transport Malays into more viable occupations in the private sector.

“Scientific” could also mean that it was “incumbent on us to change mind sets” — from accepting a general education system to a more precise and analytical one that can help develop the country’s resource with its nation building interest at heart.

To change mind sets, Tan Sri Arshad developed strategic alliances with foreign universities and funding bodies in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Human capital assistance came from the participation of Australian Services Abroad, the US Peace Corp, British Volunteers and the Canadian University Service Oragnisation.

Courses like accountancy, architecture, business administration and management, engineering, hotel catering and management, library science, and mass communication were initiated — the first of such courses offered in Malaysia at that time.

Tan Sri Arshad was a pioneer in the “twinning” concept — a process in capacity building. His long and illustrious career as a public servant deserves an appropriate recognition, as suggested by Azman Ujang (Letters, NST, Jan 1). He pioneered the pragmatic “hands on” approach to meet industry, manpower needs and economic advancement of the nation. At the same time, he was the first to introduce the concept of the humanities in Malaysian university education.

The little known journal ITM Quarterly, published in the early 1970s, contains some invaluable discourse in the intertwining nature of education in nation building, Arshad’s vision in the development of higher education in Malaysia and his ideal of the student as the new Malay intellectual.

Tan Sri Arshad Ayub liberated the Malay psyche.

Nadeswaran puts the record straight

January 1, 2014

Nadeswaran puts the record straight

by Citizen Nades (12-31-13) @

LEAVING our shores three weeks ago in high spirits and returning in the NewCitizen Nades Year, there was no reason to believe that there would be little need for adverse comments as the year comes to a close. The dawn of the New Year has always been looking at the past and charting the year ahead.

As this column is being written, the sound of the howling wintery winds echo in the background, but the news reports that I had been reading on the events in Malaysia in the interim period have created more concern than the bleak weather.

Over the past weeks, there had been plenty of reading on Malaysian affairs of the past as part of a research and in these challenging times for the media, I came across this gem in a column I had written more than six years ago.

“Newspapers can criticise, but it must be made responsibly and aimed at correcting things. This will help the party criticised to accept them (criticisms) positively.

“Leaders are only human and if there is nobody to criticise us, then we may be carried away by our positions. In a democratic system, our fate lies in the hands of the people, as such, it is best to be corrected early rather than be rejected by the people later.”Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak when launching the Pahang edition of the Bahasa Malaysia tabloid, Kosmo!, November 2006

najib-razak1To put it bluntly, this newspaper and especially this columnist have lived up to Najib’s credo. My criticisms have been responsive and responsible; accountable and answerable with the one aim – correcting the state of affairs in the various systems and bringing about a better quality of life for every citizen. We have never veered nor is there any agenda, as some critics view them.

What has made the Prime Minister change his attitude towards the media in the preceding years or are his ministers acting on their own volition without engaging their brains in gear?

In October, the Home Minister went into a frenzy, threatening to close down newspapers if his racist-laden speech and its unacceptable comments to his party members are reported. He also made a shocking endorsement of a group which had been classified as a “secret society” by the Police.

The latest to join the foot-in-the-mouth saga is Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and KL26_180513_HASAN_EKSPOConsumerism Minister Datuk Hasan Malek who said that people are supporting the increase in price of consumer goods arguing that the ministry had not received any complaints.

He was quoted as saying: “We haven’t received any complaints. My enforcement teams are on the ground engaging with the people to see if any goods are going up unfairly. We aim to work with other agencies such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the Road Transport Department and so on to ensure action is taken if businesses raise prices unfairly.”

It has been repeatedly said in this column and elsewhere that nothing can be done if the neighbourhood hawker decides to charge RM10 for teh tarik as long as there is a price list. By the way, what has MACC got to do with increases? Is selling roti canai at RM15 each an act of corruption?

After becoming the butt of jokes for such callous remarks, his ministry chooses to attack the media. The hound dogs were let loose. Instead of facing the media and explaining the situation, the ministry used Facebook to go on a tirade: “… we also believe that such sensationalisation of news and eye-catching headlines should not be at the expense of misinformation that may create the wrong perspective,” the ministry said in the posting.

Dato Amar SinghSo, blame the media for everything without looking at themselves in the mirror!The latest to join this “elite” group was Kuala Lumpur Deputy Police Chief Datuk Amar Singh who said that the illegal assembly organisers (on New Year’s Eve) would also be setting up camps around Dataran Merdeka and would be bringing various weapons, including grenades and gas masks to stir up a commotion.

When his claims were ridiculed and challenged, the inevitable had to take place – a denial. Amar Singh claimed he had been misquoted, a phrase that has been entrenched in our system of government.

“My statement about bomb threats and dangerous weapons was not directed at the NGOs involved but was based on a statement by an individual on Facebook before this,” he was quoted as saying. Why didn’t he say so at the press conference?

For the many who falter, trip over and waver (sometimes making fools of themselves), the media has become a convenient whipping boy. Instead of admitting to their follies, they choose to defend the indefensible.

So, what does the New Year hold for journalists? Are they going to continue to being scapegoats for the gaffes which our politicians, law enforcers and law makers make? Are they going to make a concerted effort to face them and make a stand?

R. Nadeswaran hopes the New Year will bode well for those involved in the dissemination of information to ensure corrective measures can be taken as propagated by the prime minister himself. Comments:

Support The HEAT and Media Freedom

December 27, 2013

MY COMMENT: Media freedom is a vital element in a democraticdato-din-merican society. Media must be treated with respect and no regime can survive long if it suppresses responsible media.History is littered with episodes of what could happen when a regime suppresses media. Curtailing media has more negatives than benefits, says Andreas Harsono and I agree.

Why is Najib afraid of the HEAT? Well because he is feeling the heat (note the pun) !! Govern properly, keep your promises and act in the national interest and you will be fine. Being Prime Minister is serious responsibility and if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen before you are forced out of office by your own party UMNO, or in GE-14. This is my simple message to the Prime Minister for 2014.Din Merican

Support The HEAT and Media Freedom (12-26-13)

Apart from Malaysians who support media freedom, the campaign to oppose the Home Ministry’s indefinite suspension of The Heat is also gaining traction among writers and activists in neighbouring Indonesia.

Well-known Indonesian author Goenawan Mohamad, a founding member of the Indonesia Journalists Alliance (AJI) Andreas Harsono (left) and popular novelist Ayu Utami have taken part in the third day of the daily tweet campaign condemning the suspension of the news weekly.

“The media can go wrong, but curtailing media has more negatives than benefits. Malaysian people lose the most,” Andreas wrote in his Twitter account @andreasharsono last night.

Andreas has been active in inviting his Indonesian compatriots to support the Angry Media Movement (Geramm), the informal group established to voice out against the suspension.

Goenawan (right) and Ayu also agreed with Andreas and asked their Indonesiangoenawan-muhammad2 friends to join in the condemnation of the suspension of The Heat.

The three are activists who have championed media freedom during the protests against the regime of former Indonesian president Suharto, back in the 1990s.

Prominent local personalities have also lent their support to The Heat‘s cause, including Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang and former BERSIH co-chaiperson Ambiga Sreenevasan.

“There already are laws on defamation. Why need to suspend newspaper? Only more damage to government image,” Tan said on his Twitter handle @tankengliang.

“There is a good reason why Harakah, Suara Keadilan and Rocket circulations are low. If it’s rubbish, people don’t buy them. Let people judge,” he said. Meanwhile, Ambiga said the suspension of the weekly was also an assault on the people’s fundamental freedoms.

“Suspending The Heat is not only an assault on the press, but an assault on the rakyat and our fundamental freedom,” Ambiga tweeted.

datuk saifuddin abdullahFormer Deputy Higher Education Minister Saifuddin Abdullah (left), despite not making a specific reference to the news weekly’s suspension, said: “I support media freedom.”

Geramm will be organising a “Free the Media” forum at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall at 8.30pm tomorrow (December 27). Attendance is free and all are welcome.

Panellists include Steven Gan (Malaysiakini), V Anbalagan (former secretary-general of the National Union of Journalists), G Vinod (Free Malaysia Today), Masjaliza Hamzah (Centre for Independent Journalism), Hata Wahari (Reporters Without Borders), and Ronasina (an independent publisher).

Veteran journalist Zulkifli Sulong will moderate the session, which will, apart from the suspension of The Heat, also touch on violence and treatment of journalists by political parties and enforcement bodies.

Geramm is also organising a campaign among supporters of the free press to wear red every Friday, in sympathy with The Heat. Its Facebook account has 2,891 followers and its Twitter account, 972 followers.

Malaysia’s Political Outlook 2014: Key Challenges Facing Najib

December 26, 2013

RSIS No. 236/2013 dated 26 December 2013

Malaysia’s Political Outlook 2014: Key Challenges Facing Najib

by Yang Razali Kassim


Prime Minister Najib Razak’s top-most concern in the new year is not just UMNO’s dominance but also its very survival. Signals from the recent party general assembly point to a three-pronged strategy to achieve this aim.


Rosmah and NajibMALAYSIAN PRIME Minister Najib Razak approaches 2014 with one big worry on his mind: how to win – decisively – the next general election (GE) that has to be called by 2018. The last one seven months ago on May 5 saw his ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition making its worst showing since 1969: despite winning the majority of seats, BN lost the popular vote to the opposition alliance led by Anwar Ibrahim.

As the new year begins, the big signal from Najib is that “1Malaysia” will probably have to be set aside as an electoral strategy. This is significant as it could mean that his vision of a unified, cohesive and inclusive plural society that was much touted in the 2013 GE – is as good as cast to the backburner.

Najib’s conservative swing

At the recent general assembly of UMNO, the anchor party of the multi-racial BN coalition, 1Malaysia was hardly mentioned in Najib’s keynote speech. Yet when resolutions were debated, one delegate sought to kill the whole idea, calling for 1Malaysia to be replaced by “1Melayu” – or 1Malay, referring to the majority community that UMNO represents.

Najib did not respond in defence of 1Malaysia. Instead his entire rhetoric during the assembly was primarily about advancing the Malay and Muslim agenda – signifying a major refocusing on this core constituency as UMNO gears up early for the 14th GE.

Unchallenged as president in party elections prior to the assembly, Najib has one TDMeye on his own political survival. The still influential former Prime Mnister Mahathir Mohamad has been uneasy about the BN’s worst showing at the May 5 polls and may want to ease Najib out, just as he did to Najib’s predecessor Abdullah Badawi. As his popularity dips due to some economic belt-tightening policies expected in the new year, Najib’s swing to appease the UMNO conservatives is not surprising.

Party hardliners are convinced that the multi-ethnic BN’s political survival rests increasingly with UMNO, whose survival in turn rests on the Malay constituency, which is synonymously Muslim. While 1Malaysia was designed to embrace all the races, its failure to attract the non-Malays, especially the ethnic Chinese, at the last

GE has weakened Najib’s hand.

The conservative faction’s argument is this: Forget about winning over the non-Malay vote and focus on expanding the Malay/Muslim ground. UMNO is strong enough to stand on its own; while the BN coalition won 133 seats overall in GE13, UMNO alone, as its anchor, won the most seats with 88 – even more than any of the opposition parties, whose combined tally of 89 seats was just one more than UMNO’s. In other words, it is UMNO that will remain the backbone of the political system. Thus Malay political power will be pivotal to the country – from political stability and security to economic progress and development.

UMNO’s three-pronged strategy towards GE14

This conservative logic formed the bedrock of the “back to basics” strategy that was spelt out by Najib, whose speech was themed “Fortifying the Future”. Going forward, UMNO will pursue three strategic thrusts – or what Najib called the “three messages from the assembly”: The first is a turn towards Islamic Shariah; the second is a stronger Malay and bumiputra agenda, for which, he said, UMNO need not be apologetic; and the third a “transformed UMNO” as a “party of the 21st century”. It is significant that UMNO as the “party of the future” will become not just more Malay, but Islamist at the same time.

Becoming more Islamist for a Malay-nationalist party like UMNO is an equally significant shift. Ideologically-driven Islamist parties actually find ethno-nationalism objectionable. UMNO clearly is positioning itself as the primary political vehicle for the Malay and Muslim constituency, thus raising the prospects of an all-out contest for power with the opposition Islamist PAS, even as UMNO – paradoxically – woos PAS for unity talks.

Umno's embelmUMNO’s drift towards a more Islamist identity was marked by a highly controversial drive to pitch itself as the defender of Sunni Islam in the face of what it paints as the growing threat of Shiism in the country. The federal constitution would be reworded to define the official religion as “Islam Sunnah Wal Jamaah” or Sunni Islam, not simply Islam. That this move is partly politically-motivated is seen in the immediate targeting of the PAS deputy leader as a closet Shia and therefore a threat.

The second thrust of a greater push for the Malay and bumiputra agenda is clearly aimed at solidifying the Peninsular-East Malaysia axis around the Malay core. Najib conceded the crucial role of the “fixed deposit” states of Sabah and Sarawak in BN’s ultimate win in the last GE. As many see it, if not for these two states, there would have been a change of government in Malaysia. With Najib’s renewed emphasis on the Malay and bumiputra agenda, the New Economic Policy that officially ended in 1990 but was unofficially continued, has finally been resurrected in all but name. CEOs of all government-linked companies have been given KPIs to realise this goal on pain of seeing their contracts not renewed.

To complete the three-pronged strategy, UMNO will go all out to win the young voters. In the next GE, some six million new voters will be casting for the first time. The majority are likely to be anti-establishment and anti-UMNO. They could make a difference whether there will finally be a change of government or not in GE14. No wonder Najib made it clear: UMNO must win over the young voters and master the social media with which the young are savvy.


UMNO’s eagerness to recover its eroded political ground has seen it responding in unexpected ways, with implications yet to be fully fathomed. Its readiness to march to its own drumbeat is a warning to friend and foe alike that the rules of the game will be set by UMNO alone.

To its ethnic-based political allies in BN, which are facing their own internal crises, the message is that the BN power-sharing system will be on UMNO’s terms. To the opposition, the message is clear: whoever controls the Malay and Muslim ground will control power – and it is not going to be the opposition, which is not homogenous ethnically and ideologically.

UMNO is desperate to win. Going forward, all communities will be forced to ponder what this means for them and the country.

Yang Razali Kassim is a Senior Fellow at S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University.

Foreign Minister Anifah Aman: Please tell us the Truth

December 10, 2013

Foreign Minister Anifah Aman: Please tell us the Truth

MY COMMENT: Foreign Minister Anifah Aman told me over theDin MericanX telephone yesterday that it was true that he had asked Rosmah to help via her links to Susan Mubarak, the wife of the now deposed President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak to secure the release of a Malaysian student who was detained for alleged spying. He added that he tried various other channels for the same purpose.

AnifahAmanI was not convinced by Anifah’s assurance since I was told that the Malaysian student was released well before Rosmah could call Susan. Now I read the following report (below) from The Ant Daily. It would appear that Rosmah’s role in this episode has been grossly exaggerated at the UMNO General Assembly to deflect public criticism over her use of the Government’s executive jet for her trip to Qatar and Dubai.–Din Merican

Did Rosmah really rescue Malaysian student detained in Egypt?

by Hazlan Zakaria @

Rosmah and NajibDespite Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s exhortations of his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s role in securing the release of a Malaysian student detained by Egyptian authorities in 2010, questions remain as her involvement was not evident in international news reports except for articles carried by national news agency Bernama and several local papers.

One such article, part of a series that extolled Rosmah’s role in the release, is among the collection listed on the Prime Minister’s Office website dedicated to the “Wife of the Prime Minister of Malaysia”.

Another article that spoke of her role was published in The Star on January 7, 2010, along with others that followed suit. Other papers also published variations of the Bernama article.

Najib had announced this as one of Rosmah’s unsung deeds, in response to criticisms over her use of an executive jet paid for by public funds for a non-official trip. He said this during his speech on the last day of the 67th UMNO general assembly in Kuala Lumpur on December 7.

However, Naijb incorrectly said that the student was accused of spying. In fact Malaysian student Ibrahim Mohd Azmi was arrested as part of Egyptian riot Police crackdown on the Viva Palestina Lifeline convoy 3 that was awaiting transit into Gaza.

He was taking pictures of riot cops attacking the Viva Palestina convoy volunteers when he was arrested. Egyptian riot police raided the compound the convoy was in after activists demonstrated refusing to exclude 59 non-medical vehicles from their convoy into Gaza. Ibrahim was one of seven Viva Palestina convoy members detained, while several others were hurt in the raid.

And while the PM boasted that Rosmah’s sacrifices for Malaysia, such as her alleged help in securing the release of the student, was rarely mentioned by him, it was curiously plastered all over the local papers.

International diplomatic cables and reports, however, carry a different tune. The US Embassy in Cairo sent a message to several stations on January 11, 2010 describing the event. A copy of the cable can be accessed on the Wikileaks website.

A portion of the cable reads “…the demonstrators had ‘detained’ two Egyptian police officers in return. Turkish MP Murat Mercan (one of 5 Turkish MPs traveling with the convoy) had mediated a release of the demonstrators and police after a couple of hours.”

Similarly, press releases by Viva Palestina credited British MP George Galloway and Turkish MPs, who the movement said “struck a deal with Egyptian authorities, part of this deal was that the 7 detainees were released without charge”.

The deal was the release of two Egyptian riot cops captured by the convoy volunteers in return for the release of the volunteers detained without charge and the convoy’s agreement to defer the nine vehicles from their trip to Gaza.

The international reports show that negotiations were between Viva Palestina, Turkish and British officials with the Egyptian authorities, no mention of a Rosmah intervention. It is also strange that no international media picked up on the matter, at least none that the antdaily can at the moment search for online.

It is not known who is stealing whose thunder here but as far as the negotiations went, it is unclear how Rosmah’s unofficial links to the wife of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, as claimed by Najib, had helped.

Mariam Mokhtar on the Imbecilic Home Affairs Minister

October 10, 2013

Mariam Mokhtar on the Imbecilic Home Affairs Minister

ZHHome Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi uses aggression to try to intimidate reporters, but he was hiding something behind the bully-boy mask which he wore at the press conference on Oct 4.

If Zahid thinks he can use his altercation with Malaysiakini to pursue an agenda which will curb press freedom, then he is seriously misguided.

It is amazing how much Zahid has changed in 15 years. At the UMNO-Baru assembly in 1998, Zahid attacked former PM Mahathir Mohamad for corruption, cronyism and nepotism. By 1999, he was practically eating out of Mahathir’s hands and referred to the then-premier’s remarks as “advice from a father to his son”. Then, he vowed to back the party leadership, but today he shows little concern for the way in which our money is mis-spent.

No one could accuse this writer of spinning; not with video footage showing Zahid bringing rudeness and thuggish behaviour to an art form. This is not the first incident of unbecoming behaviour from UMNO-Baru politicians, or their supporters, against members of the media.

A few months ago, Zahid was embroiled in a court case in which he was alleged to have assaulted a businessman. Zahid is better known for his idiocy, not powers of reasoning. His preferred mode of problem-solving is to threaten people and order those who are dissatisfied with the state of the country, to emigrate.

Zahid should realise that attributing the loss of the Police weapons to human error, is too glib. In all probability, neither he nor the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) knows what became of the weapons. If they have the information, then why are they withholding it?

Zahid and ReporterZahid started a running dialogue with Malaysiakini, when he should have been fielding questions from reporters. This diversionary tactic was a ruse to waste time.Having berated Malaysiakini, he made a hasty retreat, just like a coward. Zahid’s body language showed that he was keen to avoid further questioning.

UMNO-Baru spends hundreds of millions of ringgit on its elections and on foreign consultants to spruce up its image. Why does it not spend money for its politicians to attend classes in ethics, civility and good manners? How about educating their politicians to answer reporters’ questions properly?

As taxpayers, we want to know the measures the Home Ministry or the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) will take to stem further wastage. What specific forms of human error does Zahid think could account for the loss of the weapons?

Zahid claimed that none of the losses were from “a breach of trust, deviant acts or elements of bribery”. How does he know? Did someone file a police report and were detailed investigations conducted?

Zahid denied that carelessness and mistakes made in the line of duty were to blame. What exactly does he mean? If the system is at fault, then he should say what remedial steps he or the IGP will take to rectify the mess.

Carelessness and error?

In August, it was reported in a daily newspaper that a Policeman’s pistol and ammunition had been stolen as he lay sleeping in his car, with his window wound down, in a lay-by in Shah Alam. It was odd that he had just returned from a funeral, carrying his gun, passport and lots of cash.

Is this the sort of carelessness and error Zahid referred to? Was this Policeman punished? Did he sell his gun to a syndicate? How do we know either man is telling the truth?

Zahid’s curriculum vitae states that before venturing into politics, he worked for two banks, OCBC and Bank Simpanan Nasional. Any bank staff member will confirm that at the end of the month, every sen has to be accounted for and no one is allowed to leave the bank and return home, until the books are balanced. Zahid may not have started his banking career as a teller, but this practice is drummed into every bank employee.

The video clip of Zahid’s infantile and childish behaviour at the October 4 press conference shows him acting like the school bully in a playground. He is verbally aggressive and he knows he can use his powers as home minister to make reporters compliant.

His angry outbursts are a means of showing off. He attempts to shame anyone whom he accuses of doing something wrong. He is fiercely argumentative when anyone tries to make a point. He threatens to punish and tries to humiliate in public anyone with whom he argues. This is not spin, but is accurate reporting. Zahid is damned by his own words and actions.

Zahid likes reporters who publish only what Umno-Baru want them to say. Incredibly, UMNO-Baru is the only political party which bans Malaysiakini from covering its functions, especially its supreme council meetings. This action compromises freedom of speech.

Many people will have noticed the steady build-up, since GE13, of harsher laws. Mahathir came out of the woodwork to support stricter laws, claiming that the streets were no longer safe; not that he would know or care.

Zahid claims that amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) will be used to punish criminals, but cynics suspect that these draconian provisions will be used to gag opposition politicians, activists and reporters. We appear to be returning to the bad old days of restricted freedom.

The amendments were forced through Parliament and Zahid would be foolish to think he can broaden this latest attack on Malaysiakini into an attempt to gag the media, but the indications are that he is heading that way.

A day after the attack on Malaysiakini journalist Lawrence Yong, Zahid was at a security seminar for community leaders in Malacca, where it was alleged that he had made “sensitive remarks”.

Zahid Ham
Upon the discovery of the presence of journalists, Zahid banned them from publishing what was discussed and he followed this with a threat that he would have their newspapers shut down. The audience booed the media representatives, who were then forced to retreat.

Would Zahid have dared to humiliate, finger-wag and slap the shoulders of a foreign correspondent?Perhaps, his rude behaviour is reserved for Malaysian reporters because he can gag them and punish them, with the laws at his disposal. A bully boy attracts loyalty by fear. If Zahid harbours ambitions of becoming Prime Minister, he should tread warily.

Practise Good Journalism

October 9, 2013

Practise Good Journalism

Silence is no longer an option for those who choose to call themselves journalists. For our dignity and pride, we have to stand and say our piece on those who choose to ride roughshod over us.–R. Nadeswaran

by R. Nadeswaran@

Nadeswaran. RWHEN mobile telephones and their related technology landed on our shores more than two decades ago, they were deemed as “telecommunications equipment” which enabled the people to stay in touch with each other without the need for telephone exchanges, wires and the other trappings of a land line.

Some of them at that time appeared to be weapons of destruction, one of which was the size and weight of a brick! Over the years, with the advent of modern technology, they have become smaller and have a host of applications.

The technological advancement has not stopped. What could be classified as an innovation today could become obsolete the next day. Instead of just being used to make calls, the mobile telephone can be used as a camera, a voice recorder and even a video player. And images and voices can be sent out at the press of a button to hundreds of people instantaneously.

It is because of this that certain countries chose to ban certain brands and applications because of the threat of abuse and for security reasons.

Many holding positions and those in high office take cognizance of these existing and innocent-looking gadgets and choose to be guarded when speaking in private knowing very well that the mobile telephone has other uses.

That was perhaps what Home Minister Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi did not ZHtake into account or deliberately chose to ignore when he made the threat of closing down newspapers in a speech last Saturday.

Unknown to him, someone in the audience had made a complete recording of his nonsensical tirade and his innocuous links to a secret society which had been banned by none other than his own ministry.

That audio recording has now gone viral and no one is paying any heed to his threat and the Chinese Newspaper Editors Association has urged Zahid to retract his threat.

The threat aside, what was more shocking was his endorsement of the Tiga Line underworld group, calling them his friends and urging them to do what they needed to do.

Tiga Line, he thundered, weren’t thugs and were in fact some form of benevolent gangsters that only turned up at festivals.

“I tell our Tiga Line friends, do what should be done,” he can be heard in the recording, which has now been made available in several internet sites.

His remarks drew loud cheers from the room, and he took it further by taking a racist line when he declared that Malays were the usual victims.

“The largest drug dealers are Chinese, the smaller ones are Indians and the users are Malays. In internet gambling, the bosses are Chinese, operators are Indians and patrons are Malays.

Therefore the victims are Malays,” Zahid is heard saying, adding that he is Home Minister due to Malay support that made him UMNO Vice-President.

It is understandable the Minister is in the race for a senior party post but to take a racial stance on victims of crime is certainly the bottom of the pits.

Using crime to pit one race against the other is not acceptable. Crime has no race barrier. Using imagination and not foresight, the Minister has chosen to conjure his own reasons without any facts or figures, just to win a few brownie points for the sake of his career and political expediency.

It is obvious that he has little respect for the law; pays no heed to common sense; lacks good judgment and has no self-esteem by resorting to such levels of disgusting popularity-gaining efforts.

Besides, the threat to close newspapers goes against the basic grain of the Prime Minister’s promise of easing up on press freedom. What message are we sending out to the people when the Minister openly defies and derides the country’s No. 1 and his own plans for a fully-developed nation?

How will the PM face an international audience when a member of his own cabinet makes such unwarranted threats and attacks? How will he be able to defend his policies when renegades start putting their foot in the mouth?

I am writing this article from the heart – fully aware of the consequences. I am well aware that a fellow journalist was arrested for “her own protection”. I very well know that I could incur the wrath of the Lord and Master.

Silence is no longer an option for those who choose to call themselves journalists. For our dignity and pride, we have to stand and say our piece on those who choose to ride roughshod over us.

Politicians should no longer be allowed to use journalism as cannon-fodder for their actions or the lack of them. Or for that matter, for political gain and political glory.

If we want to practise good journalism to serve as the eyes, ears and mouths of fellow Malaysians, we cannot be practitioners with the Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.

R. Nadeswaran believes that bullying and threats have to stop to allow journalists to practise their craft. Comments:

Do you believe this Home Affairs Minister?

October 6, 2013

Do you believe this Home Affairs Minister?

Malaysiakini has called on Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to halt his attempts to intimidate journalists from the independent news portal. Journalists have a fundamental duty to ask questions of public interest, to which ministers have the responsibility to answer, said co-founders Premesh Chandran and Steven Gan in a joint statement today.

gan-and-chandran-malaysiakini-foundersSteven Gan and Premesh Chandran

The duo described Zahid’s  behaviour at a press conference yesterday as “conduct unbecoming of a Minister”. The Minister had launched into a tirade against Malaysiakini for allegedly “spinning” his words and confronted journalist Lawrence Yong after the press conference.

“If the Home Minister believes that Malaysiakini has misreported his statements, he can always contact us for a correction,” said Chief Executive Officer Premesh and Editor-in-Chief Gan.

“If he feels we are unfair to him, we are always ready to meet him or any other minister to discuss our reportage. To date, we have not received any complaints from him or his office.”

Hold Elected Officials Accountable

The co-founders of the portal reminded the Minister it is the job of journalists to hold those elected into positions of power accountable.

“In light of a perception of rising crime and lawlessness, the conduct of the police is of grave concern. The Home Minister should take cognisance of these public concerns and respond accordingly,” they added.

This is not the first time that Zahid had accused Malaysiakini of “spinning” news.He warned he was monitoring “every word, every sentence, every paragraph and every news item in Malaysiakini” during his maiden press conference as home minister last month.

zahid hamidi warning malaysiakini lawrence yong 2Meanwhile, Malaysiakini chief editor Fathi Aris Omar commended journalist Yong (left in photo) for keeping calm and standing his ground in the face of Zahid’s onslaught.

Yong had attempted to ask Zahid about the RM1.3 million worth of weapons and other equipment lost by the police force, as revealed by the Auditor-General’s Report 2012 released on Tuesday.

The Auditor-General reported that handcuffs topped the list of missing items at 156, followed by 44 weapons and 29 police vehicles.  Fathi called on UMNO to treat all media organisations with respect and fairness.

“UMNO is the only political party in the country which bans Malaysiakini from covering its functions, especially its supreme council meetings,” he said.


Task Force for Everything and yet No Outcome/Action

August 15, 2013

Task Force for Everything and  yet No Outcome/Action

by R. Nadeswaran @


HERE’S a new cure-all phrase which the creators believe will cast a magic spell on those who come across it. That phrase, if used on certain sections of the community, will compel them to understand and accept that something is being done and a solution has been found.

That phrase is called “task force” and it is increasingly being used, more often than at the drop of a hat. Is there a problem? Then, just utter the words “we are setting up a task force” and that would make the populace have faith in the system. Really?

That’s what the authorities have been doing crisis after crisis but not getting the desired results. Of course, the whole idea is that over time, Malaysians tend to forget the real issues as new ones come to the forefront.

A task force can be described as a “temporary group of people formed to carry out a specific mission or project, or to solve a problem that requires a multi-disciplinary approach.”

But in Malaysia, we even have “super task forces” which supplant the plain and ordinary task force.

In 2009, in the wake of a special report by the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and legal firm Skrine, the government appointed an 11-member super task force, headed by Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, to restore the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project and identify measures for its development.

The task force was among others required to determine the type of misconduct or criminal element on the part of individuals or entities involved in the project and recommend actions to be taken against them.

He said the task force would submit reports to the government within six months, and from time to time, would call in the parties concerned to seek their explanation.

It would also assess PKA and PKFZ’s financial situation, prepare a restructuring plan for the PKFZ, formulate business models for the PKA and PKFZ, and recommend strategic plans to attract investors.

Mohd Sidek retired last year and that’s the last we heard of the super task force. We don’t know for sure if reports were submitted to the government, but we do know that no one was summoned to appear before the panel.

Let’s look at some of the more popular task forces set up:

  • Early this year, Bank Negara Malaysia set up a high level multi-agency special task force to reduce illicit financial flows. The task force comprised the Attorney-General’s Chambers, customs, police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Inland Revenue Board, immigration and the bank. Its role is to spearhead more effective coordination and collaboration among key law enforcement authorities in the country as well as between local and international enforcement agencies to mitigate illicit activity and financial flows.
  • A special task force was set up in December 2012 to monitor all hill slope zone development built before 2010 with extra attention given to embankments and retaining walls. The Public Works Department was to work closely with the Public Works Institute of Malaysia (Ikram) and City Hall to create a hazard map to identify all dangerous hill slope zones in the city.
  • A special task force was set up in 2012 to ensure that Singaporean companies which relocate or set up shop in Iskandar Malaysia would not pose a threat, but complement local SMEs. International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said while the government was encouraging investments from Singapore companies, the local SMEs could rest assured that this move would not put their businesses at risk.
  • The Special Implementation Task Force (cabinet committee on the Indian community, Prime Minister’s Department) was established in June 2010 to monitor and strengthen delivery and implementation of public sector services and programmes.
  • A special task force to be set up under the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry would work with the Pahang government to tackle the widespread ravage of Cameron Highlands.
  • The government set up a national task force last week to look into the implementation of recommendations made by Suhakam in its national inquiry report concerning land rights of indigenous peoples. The task force will be led by Integrity Institute of Malaysia chairman Mohd Tap Salleh and made up of government and NGO representatives from peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.

Now in the wake of the shootings and upheaval caused, more task forces are being set up. The illicit outflows continue, landslides caused by hillside development are taking place and illegal land clearing is being carried out.

Will these task forces end up like scores of other such groups of the past? Will the task forces be transparent or will they sweep everything under the carpet? Will we, the rakyat, ever know the truth?

R. Nadeswaran is amused at the pace in which task forces are being set up and wonders if they produce the desired results. Comments:

Time to appreciate life’s details

July 14, 2013

Time to appreciate life’s details

MY COMMENT: The writer deals with the simple things in life, although life in my view is far from the simple. A lot has been written about how the brain works and how we perceive and make decisions. Most tend to be very technical in nature. They can be boring when one like me is not trained in neuroscience. 


At Arlington National Cemetery– The Hallowed Ground for Patriots

But I can connect with Wan A. Hulaimi when he argues that we only see what we want to see. That is true. Every time, for example, when I am driven to KLCC, along the way I see “new” things which escaped my attention previously.These things are not new, they could have been there for ages,  only that I did not notice them before.

Beyond that, I think Wan has a message for those with their noses up in the air, those in power and those people who got rich suddenly (usually from political patronage),and having got there, these people can no longer connect with ordinary folks like you and I, and our country cousins. They think they are like superman and can succeed in anything they, like Midas, undertake. Their hedonism betrays them and they have forgotten to be humble, and are disrespectful of their environment and look down on the less fortunate among us.

Our young are taught to think about making money by all and any means, not about ethical and moral values for a fulfilling life. Money, they are told, means success, the limelight and the glitter of celebrity status. As Wan says, “The life of a celebrity is valued more than that of the common people; the high reach of junk bond dealers is more noble than the quiet labour of an ordinary worker. Oh how we clamour for the seven secrets of successful people.” It is time to get real and stay connected again. Life will be richer, more fulfilling and happier that way. At least that is my view.–Din Merican

CLAMOURING FOR THE UNREAL: Stop trying to be superhuman and come back down to our level

by Wan A Hulaimi@

Wan A. HulaimiTHERE used to be a course in awareness called Pelmanism, a rigorous mental-training that was designed to make the brain more aware. You started it basically by willing yourself to see more: look at the trees, walk the street, feel the pavement, look closer. So much I gathered from a cursory reading of the subject in a book someone gave me, though you will say that knowledge of it so gleaned is paradoxical.

How could Pelmanism make you aware of so many things when your mind is designed to focus only on a few? I touched on this previously when talking about talking on the mobile phone while driving: it has been proved again and again that there are things out there that you will not see, even if you persuade yourself that you will.

Our brain is designed to sift the important from the unnecessary, as it does when it is overloaded with data. More than that, it also blots out things that you do not expect to see — which is why cyclists are always at peril even when they use a red light on the back of their helmets that flash incessantly in a field where tail-lights come in pairs. In a famous experiment conducted at Harvard, now widely known as the invisible gorilla, a group of people watching basketball players passing balls failed to notice a gorilla that strolled into view and stayed there for nine seconds.

There are things that we take for granted and there are things that we do not see, unless we look for them specifically. It is an awareness that can make you more tranquil and even lead to tranquillity. I define tranquillity for this purpose as an appreciation of subtlety, quiet and a desire to look for meaning in a jumbled-up, whirring world that spins like a tumble dryer. We have to look specifically for them or we’ll miss them totally.

How often do we look? I mean really look? Our life is so intruded by the brutal, the block-busting and the garish that we no longer look at it in its detail. It is all there stated and overstated before you: a big red building like Google’s as opposed to the under-stated but meaningful. This is a cry-it-out-loud world of expletives and superlatives and books of records that have little meaning except as a form of itself. The life of a celebrity is valued more than that of the common people; the high reach of junk bond dealers is more noble than the quiet labour of an ordinary worker. Oh how we clamour for the seven secrets of successful people.

We have lost the ordinary in this clamour for the unreal. Hence the tall building culture, the loftiest, biggest, deepest and most imposing in the world. It is all the attention grabbing that defines our path to nirvana now, and that nirvana will only be superseded by another bigger, brighter, more daring by far. We are running on the same spot and we are running to nowhere. Define contentedness when all your success gurus are telling you to reach and reach further; there are so many motivating coaches out there now that we sometimes wonder about what motivates the motivator.

How many schools now take children out to look at old architecture? How many make children look at the beauty of trees, how many tell them it is OK not to be super successful but more meaningful for them to enjoy the littlest thing that they do? But no, we are all too busy at the treadmill and running and running in the pursuit of that last frontier. We want super-brained children with the IQ of chess wizards and we throw bundles to the wayside that are labelled “Morals” and “Empathy”.

These are things that we neglect at our peril and that we will not see as more attention grabbing things are thrown at us in this world.

This is the lack of seeing that destroys our living environment, a grasping at the garishly outstanding and disregard for the silently valuable. You may have seen some of this around you: the filling up of historical sites in a city with McDs and other icons of popular culture to make them come to life — for tourists mostly. Recently, at an award ceremony in London, a Malaysian man proudly proclaimed that in his state, they are going to upgrade a heritage site by placing an establishment there called Hard Rock Cafe.

We have too many trees pulled down, too many buildings demolished, too many hills leveled by the whims of thrusting developers. We can preserve and plan to make ourselves and our children more tranquil, but we have built to put ourselves on a constant high, and others in awe.

Time to stop trying to be superhuman and come back down to our own level. It’s the kindness that touches and humanity that fills us with glad. In our deeds, in what we keep and build, and in what we know. Time to look now and appreciate life’s details.

Wan A Hulaimi is author of the bestseller A Map of Trengganu. He resides in the United Kingdom.


Pak Kadiaq’s Cautionary Tale

July 10, 2013

Pak Kadiaq’s Cautionary Tale

by Terence Netto@

Politically-aligned ownership of media outlets is the graveyard of quality journalism and a sure road to delusion of those who sit in the seats of authority.–Terence Netto

COMMENT: Former New Straits Times Group Editor-in-Chief A Kadir Jasin’s disclosure that it was Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad who personally ordered the consignment to political oblivion of Anwar Ibrahim by the NST after the latter was decapitated in 1998 brings to an instructive close the case against politically-aligned ownership of media outlets.

When the Straits Times Group, majority-owned by AC Simmons, a Jewish businessman domiciled in Singapore, was bought over in November 1972 by PERNAS, one of several government-owned corporations (the GLC acronym was not yet in vogue) set up under the New Economic Policy (NEP) to expand Malay equity ownership in the private sector, the speculation among senior journalists in the Kuala Lumpur office of the ST who were sceptical of the exercise was:

How long before this whole affair comes to grief? How long before politically-aligned ownership of media outlets would be deemed to be worse than the prior situation where ownership resided in the hands of politically unaffiliated businesspersons, more interested in profits and the public esteem stemming from being known as the publisher of a quality paper than in politics?

Twenty-six years to be exact.NONEIt took this length of time before the corporate ownership of the newspaper group, the leading one in the country before Star Publications gained pole position in the 1990s, devolved into party ownership (UMNO’s) and, finally, as per Kadir’s disclosure (right) on Monday, was subsumed under the personal fiefdom of an autocrat at the top of the political totem pole.

The assumption of the redoubtable A Samad Ismail, the then Berita Harian editor and principal figure behind the move to ‘Malaysianise’ the ownership of the Straits Times group (renamed New Straits Times after the takeover) was that his stellar stature as a political journalist-cum-Malay literary paladin and the good sense of then Prime Minister Abdul Razak Hussein and deputy Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman would provide a sufficient buffer against cotton-picking types among the lesser lights of UMNO.

Samad was entitled to his presumption. He was a confidante of Razak’s and doubled up as speechwriter on major policy addresses by the PM and Ismail.

Not in the business of making soap

Samad, arguably the best journalist on either side of the Causeway in both the English and Bahasa streams, duly had occasion to assess his own clout.

In 1975, UMNO Youth firebrand Suhaimi Kamaruddin paid a visit to NST Managing Editor Samad. Just then UMNO Youth was rising to the menacing levels of its eventual status as a powerful pressure group, thrusting on behalf of speedy implementation of the NEP.

The purpose of Suhaimi’s visit to Samad was to inquire into reports he had received that Malay journalists were not given enough berth within the NST stable to rise within its ranks.

Samad instructed the personnel department to prepare a list of the company’s hires over the preceding few years, with the academic qualifications of the non-Malay recruits juxtaposed with that of the Malay hires. The latter’s were comparatively lower.

samad ismail died past away al fatihah 040908 01Shown the evidence that tended to refute his hypothesis, a chastened Suhaimi slunk away in embarrassment after the visit to Samad (left) whose epigrammatic quip – “We are not in the business of making soap” – on another occasion, when an executive hired from Lever Brothers had attempted to assume primacy for marketing considerations over editorial ones, had the effect of checking the threat of editorial’s supercession by marketing, a practice no quality publishing group ought to allow.

But disaster struck Samad in June 1976 when he was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) as a suspected communist, a detention that had more to do with a complex power play within UMNO in which then Home Minister (Tun) Ghazali Shafie acted as a stool pigeon for Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, an old adversary of Samad’s from the early days of the People’s Action Party (PAP) formation in the 1950s.

Graveyard of good journalism

The tragedy in Samad’s arrest was that it came just when he had assembled a team of journalists that arguably would have raised the standard of journalism in the NST stable to hitherto unmatched heights.

iftco conference mahathir 220806 new straits timesThis point is debatable, but the consequent elevation to public discourse that would have come on the heels of a national newspaper’s mounting quality would have checked the rise within Umno of ersatz intellectuals like Mahathir (right), who were able to ascend within the party because of a dearth of competitive quality.

The collateral damage from Samad’s removal from an arena where he was formidably good was a devaluation of the role of the Fourth Estate in a fledgling democracy, a diminution of the power of quality journalism to raise the level of public discourse, with consequent room, the lack of which allows for the ascent by default of the mediocre and the meretricious.

There is a lesson here for Pakatan Rakyat: forsake all notions of taking ownership of media outlets when and if you come to power.

The story of the Straits Times‘ metamorphosis into the New Straits Times is the saga of a good newspaper that was set to be a better one, brought low by an initial decision to allocate ownership to the economic arm of a political party – a recipe for the intrusion of a pyramiding influence that eventually results in power centring on individuals who call the shots from behind the official editorial seats.

Politically-aligned ownership of media outlets is the graveyard of quality journalism and a sure road to delusion of those who sit in the seats of authority.

Pakatan Rakyat’s Task is Momentous

May 15, 2013

Pakatan Rakyat’s Task is Momentous

by Selena Tay@

Najib A Razak

It cannot be denied that Barisan Nasional has won the 13th general election at all costs. And it also cannot be denied that they have obtained less than 50% of the popular vote. When all is said and done, this simply shows that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is not that popular after all.

While Pakatan Rakyat will be filing election petitions to challenge the results of between 25 to 29 parliamentary seats, the results of the 13th general election at this point in time is definitely valid until the legal process takes its course.

Therefore the Pakatan MPs must now focus on the work of being theAnwar and Friends Opposition in Parliament. Their first task of course will be to bring up important issues in the new parliamentary session which will be held either end of this month or early June.

One of these issues of course will be the crime rate. People are being killed due to snatch thefts and violent shootings and these have been reported in the mainstream papers. Numerous other incidents of crime go unreported, especially the house break-ins in neighbourhoods and residential areas.

Another issue that should be brought up by the Pakatan MPs is the one-sided reporting practiced by the mainstream media. Not only before the 13th general election but also after the polls have been concluded. The mainstream media is still set in its ways in attacking Pakatan Rakyat.

DAP especially has been singled out to bear the blame for causing the so-called ‘Chinese tsunami’ when in fact many Chinese had also voted for PAS candidates.

Perak PAS strategist, Ustaz Idris Ahmad has vowed to bring up in Parliament the issue of lopsided mainstream media reporting and BN’s brand of divisive politics.

Said Idris, “Labelling the 13th general election as a ‘Chinese tsunami’ is BN’s Machiavellian method of staying in power at all costs because they have no wholesome ideas that can benefit the rakyat.” Idris also criticised the National Civics Bureau (BTN) for implanting malicious slanders against Pakatan in the minds of the civil servants.

“Even I myself won in the parliamentary seat of Bukit Gantang with the help of the Chinese voters. The Chinese only reject BN, not reject Malay,” stressed Idris who also mentioned that UMNO constantly tells the rural Malays that DAP is anti-Islam while at the same time instructing the mainstream media to blank out MCA’s insults on Islam, especially when it comes to MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek’s remarks that ‘Islam impedes economic progress’.

LIMGuanEng.htmIdris noted that there is absolutely no proof that DAP’s Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng is a racist. Guan Eng had in fact increased the allocation for the Islamic religious schools and the salary of the religious teachers when he took over the post in 2008.

“In actual fact, UMNO is covering up for its own weaknesses by blaming others. And that is why Malays who can think and who are informed will reject UMNO. Malays need to think out the answer to this question: ‘Who is oppressing the people of Kelantan, the majority of whom are Malays?’. The Malays who can answer this question correctly will definitely reject UMNO,” remarked Idris.

Malicious Journalism

Apa Lagi Cina Mahu

Malicious journalism which incites racial sentiments and misleads people is an evil practice that does nothing to enhance nation-building. In addition to that, there is also wrongful reporting by the mainstream press and Malaysian government paid journalists and analysts (youtube above).

A local English daily on May 13, 2013 reported that PAS candidate Wan Aishah Wan Ariffin who contested the Parliament seat of Jempol in Negeri Sembilan against BN’s Isa Samad had lost her deposit.

For the record, Isa obtained 31,109 votes while Wan Aishah got 22,495aishah votes. This shows clearly that she did not lose her deposit as only those who failed to obtain more than 1/8 of the total votes will lose their deposits. (For a parliament seat, the deposit is RM10,000.)

Idris took pains to stress that there has to be a fair election system and this is an issue that must certainly be raised in parliament. He brought up the example of Perak wherein for the state seats, Pakatan had obtained 625,710 (54.8%) votes while BN’s vote count was 506,947 (44.4%) and yet BN gets to form the state government!

There were three state seats in which Pakatan lost by a slim majority and they are Lubuk Merbau (53 votes), Manjoi (132 votes) and Manong (231 votes). In Manjoi, the loss was due to the postal votes wherein there should be no more postal votes in the this general election.

Utusan Malaysia GE13“The worst and most ironic thing is that the votes for the postal voting which took place earlier were counted only after all the ordinary votes have been tallied up and this issue definitely needs to be looked into for the umpteenth time and properly addressed,” said Idris.

For the parliamentary seats in Perak, Pakatan obtained 590,344 votes (51.7%) while BN obtained 546,451 votes (47.8%).

At the end of the day, BN has done many evil, malicious and wrongful deeds. All these shenanigans mentioned above and those not mentioned only go to show that all right-thinking citizens have a momentous task ahead to bring this nation forward by strengthening the bonds of racial unity.

We need perseverance, fortitude and wisdom in the struggle to make this nation great.

Selena Tay is a DAP member and a FMT columnist.