Barisan papers fail basic journalism
Utusan, NST, Star, Sun chicken out when Tun Razak’s sons
(minus Najib) respond to ‘legacy family wealth’ claim
Former New Straits Times Press group chief editor A Kadir Jasin has rightly questioned why major newspapers owned by Barisan Nasional parties failed to carry a joint statement by the four brothers of prime minister Najib Abdul Razak defending their late father’s reputation against the prime minister’s office alluding to “legacy family wealth”.
Kadir said the BN papers had flouted a basic rule of journalism, the right of reply, by not allowing the four brothers to respond to what had already been published about their father in those very newspapers and elsewhere.He told Malaysiakini: “What’s important to note here is that there must be something terribly wrong with the PMO statement to prompt the brothers to not only distance themselves from the content of that statement, but to accuse it of tarnishing the image of their late father” (Tun Abdul Razak, the second prime minister).
Tun Razak’s sons, minus Najib, issued a joint statement on Tuesday night, emailed to all major newspapers, Malaysiakini, Malaysian Insider and The Edge.
They had defended Razak’s reputation for integrity and frugality in response to a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office published in the New York Times.
The NYT had asked about the lavish lifestyles of the prime minister’s family, to which the PM’s Office had said it was not unusual “… for a person of the prime minister’s position, responsibilities and legacy (of) family assets”.
Razak’s four sons said he was a highly-principled man known for his integrity. “We take issue with anyone who taints his memory, whatever the motive. We would also like to add that our whole family is united on this issue.”
Kadir would not speculate whether the newspapers were pressured not to carry the brothers’ response.
However, it is no secret that editors at all newspapers routinely receive calls from aides to the Prime Minister or the party president, and that editors are appointed for their political loyalties rather than purely for their professional abilities.
Umno owns or controls Utusan Malaysia, the New Straits Times Press, and Media Prima commercial television; the MCA owns The Star and its radio and Internet broadcasting stations.
Kadir said if the newspapers had not published the PMO statement, they would not be obliged to publish the brothers’ response. The reverse however applied if they did carry the PMO’s statement.
Nazir Razak would not comment on the media blackout. “Apologies, but I have no further comments to make on this matter,” he told Malaysiakini, which had asked him to clarify why his eldest brother had not signed the family’s joint statement.
Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian, New Straits Times and The Star had ignored the brothers’ statement, Malaysiakini said: no report was carried in Wednesday or Thursday’s issues.
The Sun, which is owned by tycoon Vincent Tan and family, also did not the report on the issue.
Star Online edition carried a report on Tuesday night and Google Search records an item at NST Online, but the report is no longer available, Malaysiakini said.