Thursday, June 15, 2006

Winds of Change in Journalism

Firstly , the following is a copy of a letter printed in NST on June 11 th . It was written by Sufi Yusoff , an aide to Tun Dr Mahathir .

The letter :


I REFER to the Sunday Column
"And who, really, is demonising whom?" (New Sunday Times, June 11).I would like to point out several factual errors contained in the article:

• Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad did not seek an appointment with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi while both leaders were in Tokyo attending the Nikkei Conference.In fact, it was the opposite. Dr Mahathir was only informed by a third party that the Prime Minister was on the way to call on him 20 minutes before he was due to leave the hotel on May 26.To this, Dr Mahathir agreed and the two leaders met for about 10 minutes before Dr Mahathir had to take his leave.

• Dr Mahathir did not invite the foreign Press to, in your words, "lambast Abdullah and his administration".The Press conference on June 7 was called to announce the Perdana Leadership Foundation’s Global Peace Forum to be held from June 20-22. The foreign Press was there for that purpose.However, as in all Press conferences, the foreign Press took advantage of the opportunity to ask questions on other matters.

• Individuals are free to give their views, opinions or advice to Dr Mahathir.Many do that voluntarily.

However, that does not make them "advisers".In this case, as mentioned in the column, I would like to clarify that Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad does not hold any formal post as adviser to Dr Mahathir.

That was a well written letter to correct the now biased NST on their factual mistakes . However , if we look closely at the bottom of this letter , the Editor of NST added a footnote . Guess what ? Read the following footnote by NST Editor .

We have received many letters in support of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Because they express similar sentiments to the correspondence already published, we have decided to bring this subject to a close. — Editor

What on Earth does that mean !? The letter was posted to correct the factual mistakes reported by the Deputy Chairman of NST , Datuk Kalimullah . Then , as we all know , journalists make mistakes as well . And when they made a mistake , for example wrongly reporting the name of CEO , they will say that "We refer to the article on BLA BLA written on ### . The director voted out of the Board in Company MMM was Datuk XYY . It was instead Tan Sri PPM who was voted out . We acknowledge our mistake and sorry for the inconveniences caused".

Well , I don't know if the journalism method has changed to the tone where there will be a footnote on saying "Actually , we received many letters in full support of Tan Sri PPM . However , due to too many similar contents of opinions to some already published , we have decided to close the file" .

It has reached a stage that is too obvious that press freedom did not exist in NST , probably . But then , we must not forget that there are no absolute freedom everywhere , anywhere in the world . I did my research on Freedom Of Expression a year ago . And absolute freedom might not be good . No matter what , this is the first time I see such things happening in journalism .

To see that the Grand Old Man of politics ( Dr Mahathir ) is facing such disrespectful people is a sad thing . Or should I be more straight forward ? Well , we all know Dr Mahathir is helpful to the Malays . And I certainly agree ( though not fully but to a great extent ) that 'Tongkat Melayu' assistance should be given to the Malays as we were all separated racially in the past by the British that caused racial disharmony and income disparities in Malaysia .

I dare say (like many other analysts) that certain Malays are being ungrateful to what Dr Mahathir has done .

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