In the 2011 state election, the increased voter swing favouring the opposition was attributed to Radio Free Sarawak's transmissions in the native language.
The daily 6pm-8pm broadcast in Iban has gained widespread audience and given both the listeners and the opposition immense opportunities to flag abuses and failings of the ruling regime.
In the 2011 state election, the increased vote swing favouring the opposition was attributed to RFS.
The opposition went on to win an unprecedented 15 seats, but more importantly, according to political analyst Bridget Welsh, the opposition’s “greatest gains were actually in the semi-rural areas”.
With an impending general election around the corner promising to be a hard fight, local Barisan Nasional leaders are demanding that the government find some way to “stop the lies” and, according to Senior Minister James Masing, the government should try “jamming” the transmissions and finding out who the “sponsors and owners” are.
Said Masing: “We cannot allow them to continue broadcasting lies after lies because at the end of the day, many people would think that what they say is true.
“This is bad because radio stations are running down the BN government.
“Both the radio stations have been targeting the Ibans in rural areas and this had disturbed the people. We don’t like Ibans being victimised and thought of as fools.”
But Sarawak PKR vice-president See Chee How thinks instead of “jamming” the transmissions, it is best that Masing lodge a report with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).
“He can lodge a report with MCMC. He should also sue RFS if he finds that RFS has been telling lies against the BN.
“After all, Masing’s man in the Federal Cabinet is Joseph Salang who is Deputy Information, Communications and Heritage Minister,” he told FMT.
See pointed out that despite threats and intimidation, RFS had continued to broadcast since “well before” the 2011 state election.
He also said that Masing is outdated and should wake up to reality.
“This is 2013 and not in the 60s and 70s when the authorities could jam radio stations. He should wake up to reality,” he said.
On Masing’s allegation that RFS was poisoning the minds of the Ibans, the PKR leader said that the minister was making a sweeping statement unless he could show the figures.
“To me RFS is not racist at all. It covers anything and talks about issues faced by the Chinese, Malays and Ibans. It covers all aspects of issues such as corruption, abuse of power, corrupt practice and land grabs.
“It does not broadcast in Iban only, but also in Malay, Kayan, Kenyah and Punan dialects.
“He may think that everybody is as racist as him. If RFS is racist, there would be no listeners. It is unlike TV1, TV2 and TV3 which are being used by BN as channels to carry out its propaganda.
“They are too partisan so much so that the people are not going to listen to their craps,” See said, pointing out that the three stations were so unpopular.
“Let the people make their choice,” he said.
Yesterday, Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud also urged the authorities to halt the operations of clandestine private radio stations (RFS) and Radio Kenyalang (RK) for allegedly deriding the government and misleading the people, especially in the rural areas.