What now for the Star, caught between its readers and politician owners?

No buyout plans say owners of the Star

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Which way will the Star move?

What will the MCA do with its prize property, a RM1.2bln cash cow that gives the milk of a RM25mil dividend, now that the market has shifted?

Will the owners allow the paper to change its editorial stance, with the mass desertion of its core readership away from the MCA at the general election?

Will the owners allow the paper’s journalists more elbow room, as some editorial executives pleaded with the owners to do before the general election?

Will opposition politicians recognise that most of the working press chafes at their chains and the self-imposed restrictions of newsrooms in the Barisan Nasional empire?

Will opposition politicians continue to ignore the real frustrations of the working press which, once every five years, erupts in cheers and applause in the newsroom at every little gain by an opposition politician, in the face of grim, sulking executives?

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DAP’s advantage: freer Chinese newspapers

Only the Chinese-language newspapers are not politically owned

Only the Chinese-language newspapers are not politically owned


• Sin Chew, Guang Ming, Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press are owned by Media Chinese International Ltd, which belongs to Sarawakian timber tycoon Tiong Hiew King, who also owns titles in Hong Kong, Canada and Papua New Guinea.
• Kwong Way Yit Poh, the local paper in Penang, is privately-onwed
• Media Prima group, comprising TV3 and all commercial televion stations; New Straits Times, Berita Harian and Metro; outdoor advertising and three FM commercial radio stations – owned by Umno through proxies and controlled by allies of Najib Razak;
• Utusan Malaysia group, which publishes Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo, owned by Umno;
• The Star media group comprising The Star and three radio stations, owned by the MCA;
• Tamil newspapers, mostly owned or controlled by the families of MIC politicians;
• The Sun, owned by tycoon Vincent Tan and son Robin, allied to Mahathir Mohamad.
(East Malaysian newspapers not included)

Peninsular Malaysia’s Chinese press, relatively freer than other mass-circulation newspapers, gave the DAP a propaganda advantage over its Pakatan Rakyat partners, PAS and PKR, said a party official.

Loke Siew Fook of Negeri Sembilan DAP, was quoted in today’s Sin Chew Daily as saying that the Malay community had a narrower room to receive information as most Malay media have been under control. “DAP has an advantage here, but not PAS and the PKR as Malay newspapers would not give them the same convenience,” he said.

He said that the DAP was able to mobilise its supporters to attend its ceramah by advertising and obtaining publicity in Chinese newspapers and through Facebook. However, PAS and the PKR had to rely on traditional ways such as leaflets and banners. With ceramah being held every night during the campaign, it was less effective.

“We know their difficulties. Although we are disappointed, we will not blame them,” he said, referring to Pakatan’s failure to take power in Negeri Sembilan, one of the eight possible “change” states on the coalition’s list.

» DAP propagandised through Chinese newspapers: Loke Siew Fook (Sin Chew Daily).


Bt Aman says Bernama misquoted IGP

Police headquarters said this evening that the Inspector-General had been misquoted in the reports published today in which he purportedly said tonight’s election protest rally at Kelana Jaya stadium was illegal. A statement from Bukit Aman said the IGP had at no time mentioned the need for a permit.

The Bernama report of yesterday’s press conference (held at 3pm) had said the rally was illegal because the organisers did not apply for a permit. Opposition politicians pointed out this morning that permits were no longer required under the Peaceful Assembly Act, and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim stated that the rally would go ahead. This afternoon, Fadzi Fadzil, aide to Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, circulated an image of a letter to the Petaling Jaya OCPD, which was acknowledged received at about noon. Continue reading

Fearmongering by the Star


Fearmongering by the Star

Racism – a LAT’s-eye view

LAT's-eye view of racism


Zaid: this stupid paper must go

Former law minister Zaid Ibrahim on race-baiting by Utusan Malaysia

Saifuddin Abdullah

“I do not agree with the title, we must be smart in evaluating the 13th general election. I lost but I do not fault anybody.”
• Umno supreme council member Saifuddin Abdullah, who failed to be elected as MP for Temerloh

Utusan back to whipping up racial fears

The race-baiting begins, a day after talk of "reconciliation"

The race-baiting begins, a day after talk of “reconciliation”

Barely a day after Umno leader Najib Razak spoke of the need for “national reconciliation”, Utusan Malaysia is back to race-baiting, picking up from where Najib had left off, blaming a so-called “Chinese tsunami” for the Barisan Nasional’s poor showing at the election.

As many have pointed out, it was not Chinese voters alone who deserted the Barisan Nasional, it was urban voters in general. The Chinese population is less than 30% of the total population – and even if you consider the DAP to be a Chinese party (ignoring Karpal Singh & Sons, Sakmongkol AK47 Ariff Sabri, and others) the party’s 38 seats in Parliament amount to only 17% of the total number.

Yet Utusan is already whipping up racial fears about the Chinese community trying to topple the Barisan Nasional, and trying to break Umno’s hold on power.

No doubt that falls into the same logic as the DAP trying to turn Malaysia into a Christian nation. The DAP has only 17% share of political power, Christians form only 10% of the population – and the Malay Rulers will need to approve any such important changes to the Constitution.

But trying to talk sense to Utusan Malaysia falls in the same category as throwing pearls before swine.

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Remains of the day: just throwing money around

In a corner of a coffeeshop late in the night, about 600 copies of the Star lie stacked, bundles that look as if they’d just been delivered from the Circulation mailroom.

The Circulation routing slip is neatly placed in a corner of the bundle, the packing straps still in place.

Any minute now, you think, the news vendor is about to ride up on his kapcai, and collect his bundle.

But it’s midnight on Friday. The papers are copies of that day’s edition, printed the night before. It’s been 20 hours since they were printed and packed. The bundles are still unopened.

Remainders of tthe day: free copies of the Star still strapped in their bundles

Remainders of the day: free copies of the Star still strapped in their bundles

One or two copies lie on the tables, and some late-night customers flip through their copies, briefly dipping into an article or two as they have their supper at the coffeeshop near the Sungei Pinang waterfront. Only one or two seem to be reading anything at length, and one man at a nearby table is engrossed in a fullpage advertisement.
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BN staff threaten Mkini reporter with smacking

Info Dept vans seen being used at party ceramah in KL

Malaysiakini reporter Koh Jun Lin has reported being faced with threats of assault by Barisan Nasional staff when he tried to find out about the use of federal government Information Department vans and equipment at a party ceramah in Batu, Kuala Lumpur.

In his report on the encounter, Jun Lin said the party’s event organiser, Suhaimi Yahya, had shouted: “Hey! You are lucky I haven’t smacked you yet. . .” At this point, an unidentified man wearing a BN shirt stepped in and forced Malaysiakini to leave the venue, shouting “Go back”, “Don’t cause trouble”, and “Don’t you dare look back”.

Jun Lin’s run-in with the BN workers had come when he tried to ask about the use of Information vans and equipment at the opening of the party’s election centre for Batu constituency.

A speaker van was used to broadcast speeches, while two other Information vehicles were parked nearby, Jun Lin reported. » Info Dept vehicles used at BN Batu ops centre launch [Malaysiakini]

Barisan Nasional deputy chairman Muhyiddin Yassin had been the guest-of-honour earlier in which he spoke to about 300 supporters criticising the outgoing MP, Tian Chua of Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

Government equipment is not allowed to be used for party purposes under any circumstances and especially so by a caretaker government during election campaigns — but the Alliance and the Barisan Nasional coalitions have paid scant regard to procedure and good constitutional behaviour in the past.


» Berjaya Hotel refuses to allow political forum

A political forum featuring young political leaders Saifuddin Abdullah (Umno) Gan Ping Sieu (MCA), Liew Chin Tong (DAP) and Mujahid Yusof Rawa (PAS) has been moved from Berjaya Hotel Times Square, Kuala Lumpur, to the Corus two days before it is to be held.

The hotel in Jalan Imbi, and the commercial complex is owned by tycoon Vincent Tan (also owner of the Sun newspaper).

Organisers did not reveal what reason had been given for the last-minute cancellation of the ballroom booking.

» [Malaysiakini] Political forum loses venue at eleventh hour


The presidential PM ends his term

By Gobind Rudra

Najib Razak has kept to his chosen self-image of a presidential prime minister by calling for a general election only after completing a full four years in office.

In fairness, he might even be allowed a measure of self-congratulation, for having stayed the course and completing his “term”, even if it is only in his imagination that his four years as PM can be compared to the fixed four-year term of the US president, and only in his own imagination could he be compared to Barack Obama.

With his image handlers he has worked hard at projecting himself in the Obama mould — even down to the solecisms of his swearing-in and the King’s proclamation of dissolution and his frenetic adoption of new media savviness and online cool.

His projection of himself in the image as Obama, as absurd as it may seem, could be seen as early as June 2009 when the US president made the semi-obligatory phone call, engineered by the State Department, to the newly-appointed prime minister. Najib recorded it thus in his blog:

It was our first conversation with each other as Heads of State and we exchanged congratulatory wishes on our respective appointments. » PM’s blog

The King is the supreme head of the federation

Only one head of state: the Yang di-Pertuan Agong

Well, to start with, there’s only one head of state in Malaysia, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. For Najib to usurp the King’s position is an act of lese majeste if not possibly treasonous, and I’m surprised that the Keeper of the Ruler’s Seal, the Grand Chamberlain, or other official at Istana Negara did not send an official letter of reprimand to crack the PM on his knuckles.

And again, in trying desperately to put himself at par with the president of the United States, he chose to talk about “our respective appointments”. Wrong. Barack Obama was not appointed to his job, he was elected president of the United States. Najib Razak was appointed prime minister by his head of state. As prime minister he is head of government — but not head of state, even though Najib chose to call himself that. Barack Obama, however, is both head of state as well as head of the US government.

Najib is well aware of this, having spent his entire working life in politics and government, besides being a titular Pahang chieftain. That he chose to use the words “head of state” and recorded them in his official blog is a reflection of his own needs to project himself as being one of the big boys.

Unfortunately, he effused them with the cheap reek of the social climber’s over-reaching need for recognition, to be considered among his betters. It bore the pungent ordour of the image-builder, more conscious of how he seems and less bothered about what he is.

More grotesque was Najib’s desperate striving for the image of a reformer, of a Barack Obama-like barrier-crashing leap to the top. But the contrasts could not be more obvious.

Barack Obama, the half-breed son of a Kenyan immigrant, the outsider from Hawaii and Illinois, achieved the US presidency in a culmination of decades of efforts by a coloured minority class to cut through centuries of majority-class repression and oppression.

Najib Razak, the English-educated member of the political aristocracy, the consummate insider, sauntered into his father’s constituency, and strolled into the prime minister’s office after a lifetime cruising through the corridors of Malaysian power, always an insider, always a member of the majority, always in the inner circles of the ruling class.

As grotesque as it was, Najib sought desperately to adopt the Obama image of a change agent. He tried, or seemed to try, to shatter the obstacles of social and ethnic privilege that his own majority ruling class had placed in the path of the coloured minorities of Malaysia, while also trying to placate the lumbering fat cats of his class.

His personal efforts, projecting a presidential demeanour and style, were very much at odds with the rest of his party well-ensconced in decades of privilege. His appearances of reaching out — at coffee-shops and stalls, meeting with Chinese educationists, attending minority religious festivals — were personal, thus presidential, seeking to overwhelm a party image of self-serving and self-satisfied indifference with that of a personal image of responsibility and of making an effort.

Ultimately, these efforts are likely to be seen as misplaced.

It is not Malaysian society that needs to change, it is Umno. It is not the leader of Umno who needs to seen as relevant to Malaysian society, it is Umno itself that must tear away the scab of domineering top-down father-knows-best condescension and reveal the pus in its flesh.

Najib Razak may have meant well, but personal efforts, and being personable, are not enough. He took the easy path, the presidential path, to project himself.

But he is not the president of Malaysia, merely the president of Umno. It is not Malaysia that will elect him as president, merely Umno delegates.

And in his presidential four years, he failed to cause the only meaningful type of changes that would realistically be a catalyst to institutional and systemic change.

The real test of change, the one that Najib has failed, was to change Umno itself.

For change without is nothing without change within.