Truth buried in the printed pages
Jeswan Kaur | May 27, 2011
The mainstream newspapers are the voice of their political masters and this has seen the growth of the alternative media.
Not so long ago “don’t believe all that you read in the newspaper” was said in jest. Now, unfortunately there is a ring of truth to this statement.
Ask just about anyone what they think about the mainstream media and chances are you will get a look of disgust. The mainstream media is owned by political parties and their glossed-over news coverage has given rise to the alternative media.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) has a stake in all the country’s premier’ newspapers such as New Straits Times (NST), The Star, Utusan Malaysia, Tamil Nesan and Sin Chiew Jit Poh through its investment companies
The Utusan Melayu Group is owned by Umno and publishes three Malay language dailies.
The major English newspapers, The Star and New Straits Times, are also owned by the political parties. The Star is owned by the MCA while NST is owned by Umno. Besides The Star, MCA also controls four other dailies – Sin Chew Jit Poh, Nanyang Siang Pau, China Press and Guang Ming Daily.
Private interests aligned with the MIC control Tamil newspapers such as Makkal Osai and Tamil Nesan.
Under such tight leash, the mainstream media are left with no space to engage in a fair and free reporting. They end up parroting all that the government of the day says.
Take, for example, the incident in 1995 where an investigative team from The Sun newspaper investigated the circumstances leading to the deaths of 59 detainees, mostly Bangladeshis, in an illegal immigration detention camp. These detainees died of beri-beri, a symptom of malnutrition and typhoid, which is easily preventable.
The team’s report stating that it was a case of criminal neglect on the part of the police who ran the camp was spiked hours before it went to print.
Bias reporting continues
More recently, the lopsided reporting by the mainstream media was evident during Sarawak’s April 16 state election. The NST had nothing but only “nice” things to report about BN, including why the people should dismiss the opposition alliance of Pakatan Rakyat.
But what the NST did is nothing new. Be it the by-elections or general election, these mainstream newspapers do a good job of serving their political masters and betraying the trust of their readers.
The NST is not the only culprit. The government-owned Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) channels have long forgotten the importance of reporting without fear or favour.
RTM1’s Berita Wilayah aired at 5pm daily is a classic example of how reporting is manipulated by the “powers that be”. The one-hour news has all things good to say about the BN government’s “remarkable” job in serving the people when the truth really is otherwise.
Likewise, the television stations including those owned by Media Prima do not have the guts to report the truth. At best, they do a fantastic job of glossing over BN and condemning the opposition parties.
Media Prima Bhd, by the way, is a subsidiary media corporation that controls several television networks, newspapers, and radio stations and is linked to Umno.
Media Prima also controls English newspapers such as NST and Malay Mail, as well as Malay papers like Berita Harian.
Just as bad is the national news agency, Bernama, which has trespassed all sense of accountability it has to the public by manipulating the truth. Because of this, the government propaganda organ has to work very hard to earn its long-lost respect from the public.
The business of restoring public trust has been taken over by the online media which has gone on to reveal all the dirt previously swept under the carpet by the mainstream media.
Mainstream media vs credibility
The biggest culprit that keeps harming racial unity among Malaysians is none other than Utusan Malaysia.
On May 7, the newspaper published a front-page report alleging that Christianity was moving in to replace Islam as the official religion. The article which relied solely on postings by bloggers is akin to adding salt to injury, causing great unrest among the people with its false reporting.
Clearly, the Utusan management has taken the “tabloid” approach, sensationalising issues for the sake of selling its no-longer saleable newspaper.
Prior to this, Utusan Malaysia made a call for 1Melayu, 1Bumi which caused a furore among the non-Malays. When pressured on the matter, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak feigned ignorance on the gravity of the issue, saying the article was the personal opinion of the writer.
On April 20, Utusan Malaysia assistant editor-in-chief Zaini Hassan wrote in his column “Cuit” that the Malay community and the non-governmental organisations can only unite if they come together under the “1Melayu, 1Bumi” banner.
Zaini’s writing bases its logic on DAP’s success in uniting the Chinese when the party won 12 out of 15 seats it contested in the Sarawak state election on April 16.
However, the “1Melayu, 1Bumi” concept Zaini writes of will further wear out the spirit of muhibbah between Malaysians of different races. Does Zaini know something the rest of the Malaysians do not, where unity is concerned?
What then about Najib’s 1Malaysia propaganda? Does Utusan Malaysia have no faith in it? Or does Najib care less if Utusan keeps spinning the racism wheel.
Respect readers feelings
If Utusan Malaysia finds it advantageous to play the racial game, the NST, on the other hand, places little discretion on the headings used to describe a story. Its recent report dated April 18 stated “Besut boot camp for 66 sissies”.
Could the report not have relied on the term “effeminate” instead of “sissies” knowing fully well the deep-rooted prejudice society has against these people?
By using the term “sissies”, the newspaper concerned has only made matters worse, affirming public perception that such boys need “help”.
Is this newspaper not guilty of perpetuating the stigma and prejudice faced by the marginalised communities when its choice of word only serves to discriminate instead of create awareness?
The scenario seems to be that the mainstream media is devoid of compassion when touching on issues concerning marginalised communities. No thought is given to the choice of words used so long as it catches the readers’ attention.
Instead of educating the readers, the mainstream media has for a long time been denying them their right to know the truth. In fact, they have abdicated their responsibilty to tell the truth.
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SURAT KHABAR LAMA ( today news tomorrow junk ) no wonder sales take a dive.
Iban longhouse · 7 hours ago
Very simple solution. If you believe that any newspaper write nonsensical things which are far from the truth and created issues which are not true, then boycott that newspaper. Why should you waste your money to buy that newspaper.
Looking forward · 33 minutes ago
Very True, but unless you are living under the proverbial coconut shell, you must know that truthful newspapers are not given a license. So people have no choice, but to buy to at least know foreign news, sports news etc. Please lah, instead of writing such weird comments, do your duty to educate the Ibans (if you truly an iban and malaysian citizen) on alternate online news etc.
Mukris · 6 hours ago
I don't buy or even read paper-based newspaper these days. Most of the big news can be read at Malaysiakin and here, why waste money reading on other petty news? By the way they are not eco friendly and sometime has too much ads.
Judas · 6 hours ago
all propaganda toilet rolls... only good for wiping filth from one's body... look at the the owners of the media and you will see who are the corrupted parties... the more controlled media the more controlled that particular race because they are fed filth every morning.. so pitiful so pathetic ... these people are still so naive and ignorant in this age of internet.... *sigh*
notaligned112p · 4 hours ago
Oh no no, I will not subject my A*s to such filth, might get infected using such filthy paper. Anyway, the last I bought these papers regularly was so many years ago that I cannot remember when. Yes, I do read the sun occassionally when I get my hands on one, other than that, no I don't want to waste my money...
Berita.... eversince I nearly broke my TV because I almost threw something at it, I made it a point never to see the news on TV....so my news is from the net,,,,,,,