The 'hide the truth' and 'paint the opposition ugly' discrimination speaks volumes of the BN ruling government's manipulation of the press.
These masters comprising leaders of political parties unabashedly abuse the print and broadcast industry to perpetuate their own agendas, with Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia turning nasty towards the party’s nemesis, Pakatan Rakyat.
Media Prima Bhd, a subsidiary media corporation, controls several television networks, newspapers, and radio stations and is linked to the country’s ruling party Umno.
Media Prima, the biggest media group, controls English newspaper New Straits Times and Malay newspapers like the Berita Harian and Harian Metro.
Likewise, the MCA-owned Star performs as dictated by its “taiko” while the pro-BN Tamil Nesan and Nam Naadu dare not go against the coalition in its reporting.
In short, the conventional press is on a tight leash no thanks to BN, a scenario which has left the rakyat bereft of the truth of what is happening around them.
Issues of corruption, cronyism and nepotism involving BN politicians have never seen the daylight in the hands of the mainstream press. On the contrary, news implicating Barisan Nasional’s arch rival Pakatan negatively receives the print and broadcast media’s utmost attention.
This “hide the truth” and “paint the opposition ugly” discrimination speaks volumes of the BN government’s manipulation of the press, so much so that the people are just fed up with the biased and unjust reporting of the mainstream media.
And the truth, when reported by the news portals, has left BN shivering in its pants; so shocking is the dirt uncovered by the online news sites that the federal goverment quivers at the speed its hanky-pankies are being revealed, one after the other.
No longer can BN claim to be safe in the folds of its “home-grown” media establishment, for the many online news sites in town have sent across the message that they are here to stay.
It is this development that has left the BN politicians worried, so much so that the government has created a brouhaha alleging that the online media is unfair towards it and is partisan to the opposition party.
But BN has no qualms using the government-owned television station Radio Televisyen Malaysia to fabricate lies after lies in its efforts to brainwash the people into believing that there is no other government that can look after their welfare like it does.
Online truth scares BN
The fact is that it is the truth continuously exposed by the online news sites that scares BN and the only way it can think of condemning these sites is by accusing them of being lopsided and pandering to the opposition.
One such accusation came omes from Umno-Kota Belud MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan who said such portals seem to lack balance.
“My problem with the online media is that you could do so much more. You could actually present yourself to be [balanced]. You don’t have to be partisan.
“It is fine to be as fast as possible [with news]… But it would be better to get the other side’s response within the same article,” he had told FMT .
On the topic of partisan, what does Abdul Rahman have to say at the manner in which the truth is often twisted in favour of the BN, resulting in the opposition becoming the “bad boy”?
Since he is all for fair reporting, does this Umno MP have the guts to condemn Utusan Malaysia or the Star for its partial and untruthful writings?
Abdul Rahman wants the online news sites to give the government space for rebuttals but can the same request be accommodated by the mainstream media to give the opposition a chance to clarify when necessary?
Even MIC-Segamat MP Dr S Subramaniam has little regard for the alternative media which he claims is either symphathetic or directly supportive of Pakatan.
“That gives a perception that the whole online media is tied to the opposition agenda,” the Human Resources Minister had said.
Like Abdul Rahman, the MIC deputy president also wants the online media to reflect on issues in a fair manner while conveniently ignoring the fact that such “luxury” has never been accorded to the opposition by the mainstream press.
People want ‘unglossed’ truth
The rakyat can vouch for the unfair and biased reporting undertaken by the mainstream media in cases like the Bersih rallies that took place. Both the print and broadcast media went to town accusing the Bersih organisers of having a hidden agenda and wanting to dethrone the BN government.
Similarly, the Scorpene submarines deal that allegedly involved a multibillion-dollar corruption has gone “unnoticed” by the mainstream media.
When the online sites decided to highlight the truth behind this fiasco, the BN government started working overtime to find ways and means to take these sites to task.
And recently it was the country’s oldest newspaper, the New Straits Times turned “tabloid”, which opted to sensationalise the the allegations currently faced by human rights organisation Suaram.
In its Sept 21 frontpage report, the NST claimed that Washington-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was seeking to destabilise the government by channelling up to RM20 million in funds to Malaysian non-governmental organisations such as Suaram, Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and news portal Malaysiakini.
But the NST front page report “Plot to destabilise govt” did not specify how the organisations planned to overthrow the BN-led government with the donated funds.
The NST’s report also failed to substantiate its claim that the NED was planning to destabilise the BN government, beyond citing “investigators” and “sources”, and a Berita Harian interview with Aliran founder Chandra Muzzafar on Sept 20.
Clearly a “mischievous” article, the report has further affirmed the rakyat’s belief that the mainstream media is both unreliable and untrustworthy.
Now, what would Abdul Rahman have to say to such unethical reporting by the conventional media?
The rakyat wants to know the “unglossed” truth, but the mainstream media is incapable of doing it – no thanks to the suffocating control over them by BN politicians.
BN tried and continues to depict the Bersih rally and its organisers negatively, disrespecting the rakyat’s wishes and right to a fair and balanced news.
Even the corruption involving BN politicians goes unreported by the mainstream media which, instead, goes all out to persecute Pakatan, accusing it of taking the people of this country for a ride.
There are many instances which have reflected the poor judgment displayed by the mainstream press in tackling the truth – all because its political masters have no courage to face the truth and keep repeating the same mistakes of taking the rakyat for granted.
Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.