How about prostitution, for Hew’s sake

Hew's analogy: prostitution by amateur schoolgirls

Did you like that fancy word DAP superman Hew Kuan Yau is supposed to have used instead of “prostitute” to describe Malaysia’s journalists? “Enjo-kosai“. So exotic, so tempting, like the Japanese schoolgirls who go on dates with strange men, have sex with them, get money for it, and then go back to school, or go shopping for expensive brand-name clothes, or handbags, or a trip to Disneyland.

That’s what “enjo-kosai” means — amateur schoolgirl prostitutes.

Enjo-sokai is an aspect of the Lolita complex in Japan: middle-aged men fascinated by young girls in uniform, especially schoolgirls.

So superman Hew has dished out a double-whammy: not only are Malaysian journalists prostitutes, but they are a bunch of Lolita-like amateurs.

The press seem to be falling over themselves to help him, by saying he had said and meant “compensated dating” and to avoid that “P” word.


“Compensated dating” is a euphemism, a softer roundabout way of avoiding a blunt, direct word that might offend; saying “he passed away”* instead of “he died”; buying a “pre-owned” car instead of a used one. Or saying “money politics” instead of “vote buying”.

It’s bullshit (or “bovine manure” if you prefer) to avoid saying prostitute, that people took  money for coverage.

That’s a cover-up, and as cover-ups go, a form of prostitution itself; it surely isn’t journalism. Name them instead — and name and shame the politicians and businessmen who paid, and publishers who allowed it to happen.

A free press? Or just free publicity?

Someone who wants the press to make him look good, and sound mature and not a boor, cannot be relied on merely by his making a verbal commitment to a free press.

Do they want a free press? Or just a press free to give them publicity? Will they stand up for the independent journalism that should come with a free press? Will politicians help establish an ethical press by themselves not corrupting the journalist? Or do they just want to “turn over” journalists to become their poodle instead of a poodle of the other side.

There is no free press without an ethical press. All the bluster of loud-mouthed media critics who’ve never covered a beat means nothing until they put their money where their mouths are by attacking and exposing the cause of unethical journalism:

  • owners and publishers who expect journalists to work for peanuts;
  • owners and publishers who expect journalists to sell advertising space to pad up their meagre salaries;
  • businessmen who advertise and expect favourable coverage and cover-ups in return
  • politicians who corrupt journalists by trading on information
  • politicians who turn journalists into their publicists
  • politicians who use their position to intimidate and harrass

And he can expose the politicians who not only routinely pay out “attendance money” but demand and expect that journalists take their shilling and do their bidding.

Do they have the balls to fight this evil of political ownership? Or do they just want to wait for their turn to be owners? 

Will they expose the publicity-hungry politicians of both sides, the bureaucrats, owners, publishers, and the dirty businessmen who have corrupted our journalism?

Or will they do the cowardly thing and merely shout at journalists?

Is a journalist who has been turned over by an opposition politician to cover up for him, or cover him, now an “independent journalist” because he doesn’t work in the BN system? If he any different from those within the BN system who get described as prostitutes for staying on?

When journalists turn into opposition mouthpieces after years of accepting salaries from Umno or MCA publications, are they now suddenly become “independent journalists”? Are they morally superior to journalists who choose to continue working in Umno and MCA publications?

Will politicians stop corrupting our journalists?

In the eyes of many opposition supporters, only those who have whole-heartedly abandoned themselves to opposition flackery are seen as “independent” journalists. They are just as corrupting as the politicians and businessmen who put aside little envelopes or ang pows, or expensive souvenirs, as thank-you-for-coming takeaways.

(Malaysiakini’s mat salleh columnist not only thinks Malaysian journalists are  “prostitutes”, he calls NUJ members “pariahs”: that is the very word for the filth of Fleet Street, that redoubt of crusading, principled non-partisan journalism. Not.)

Do politicians genuinely support free and independent journalism?

Why does no opposition politician talk of free and independent journalism, but only of a free press? Because independent journalists will expose them as much as the other side. But supporting a free press opens the door for the opposition politician and their businessmen friends to start newspapers under their own control.

And besides, being a so-called defender of “freedom of the press” always sounds grander and more posh, even if they are only pushing their own self-interest.

Needless to say, it is a merely a free media that Hew favours.

As usual, like all politicians, he just wants a media that’s free to attack his opponents.

In today’s world of binary politics, anyone who casts merely a sceptical eye on what opposition people say or do — and there’s just as much bullshit and devilry from the opposition side — will be labelled a turncoat, a prostitute, having sold out, been bought over. But turn in an instant criticism of Mahathir, Najib, Chua Soi Lek, Samy Velu, or the 1Ros of Malaysia, or what have you, and there’ll come glorious hallelujahs for having seen the light.

Opposition frauds who got a free ticket

Opposition politicians have so easily usurped the moral high ground of politics only because they’ve hardly ever being made to prove their moral credentials or worthiness  — because so much filth has accreted over 40 years of Umno-BN hegemony that even a dog who yaps the right words can be regarded as a saviour. Or even as a superman.

Had we a truly independent press, these quacks would have been exposed long ago for the paucity of their thinking and the desolation of their lack of morality and self-worth.

Few politicians have shown any real commitment to laying the proper foundations for a free and independent press, notwithstanding the stout hearts of the committed young idealists in their midst. They’ll be the first to be knifed in the back by the hardened street pol who sees little value in such niceties and merely wants a tame press on his side.

Do the right thing, not the cowardly thing

When Hew Kuan Yau says he’s willing to work with the NUJ on “freedom of the press” we can only hope that he has the moral fibre and the backbone to call a spade a spade and not a gardening implement, and do the right things.

  • He can start by helping journalist to become independent non-partisan ethical professionals, and not publicists for his party;
  • He can keep relations with the NUJ at arm’s length by not crippling it by trying to turn it to an opposition vehicle while it struggles to deal with publishers and government;
  • He can stop attacking journalists and, instead, attack the root causes of mediocre and unethical journalism: the owners, the managers,  the advertisers and the politicians.

Making a belligerent non-apology in Chinese one day and then issuing a high-sounding one in English the next day doesn’t cut it.

*Rich or powerful people never die, they only pass away in the Not Straits Times, the Star, the Sun, and Bernama.

3 thoughts on “How about prostitution, for Hew’s sake

  1. It is rich, that journalist of this fair land of ours, has the temerity to take umbrage over a remark that to all intents and purposes, has a distinct ring of truth about it.
    For a half century, we have had only manufactured news, political propaganda and apple polishing. It is a bit late in the day to insist that you deserve any kind of respect. You have not earned it. It is of your own making that journalists and newspapers have such bad reputations . Live with it or get out of the profession.

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