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

A free press – or a two-party press system?

By Gobind Rudra

Everyone loves the idea of a free press, that’s practically a given. The point really is: what kind of a free press will the politicians allow us to have?

We know the Barisan Nasional’s idea of a free press: it’s the system already in place, a system mostly owned or controlled by the Barisan Nasional, free to report the thoughts of Barisan Nasional leaders; a free press kept in check by press control laws and licensing rules that allow the Barisan Nasional to decide who can be a publisher or broadcaster.

Who will buy my papers? [NST photo]

Who will buy my papers? [NST photo]

What is Pakatan Rakyat’s answer to that? Anwar Ibrahim made an emphatic declaration on this at the March 8 ceramah in Penang:

Ada orang kata Ban TV3! NO! Kita FREE media. . .YES! Kita bagi FULL FREEDOM – siapa nak bawa television, radio, surat khabar. . . FIRST DAY of the new Pakatan Rakyat government. . .(cheers, applause). Dan kita ada confidence. . .kita boleh compete dengan these racist media organs. . . Kerana. Orang. Nak. Media. Yang. Bebas. Dan bukan: media yang memperlembukan rakyat (cheers, applause). » What did Anwar really say? » Video: Anwar on free media

Stirring stuff, the kind people have been longing to hear.

But two questions remain: is he truly promising full freedom, or will Pakatan Rakyat, in practice, deliver something a little short?

Based on what he said, we can infer:

  1. No punitive action — that means no action to close down TV3 (and by extension, Media Prima and Utusan groups, and all the rest), and they stay in business.
  2. Full freedom to publish — possibly means no licences needed to publish a newspaper or open a broadcasting station.
  3. But he also asserted a freedom to compete — and that’s the crux of it. Kita boleh compete dengan these racist media organs he said. Kita boleh compete. . .meaning who, exactly?

The existing press houses are already a Barisan Nasional bloc. With freedom to publish, new people will rush in to open newspapers and broadcasting stations. Obviously, Anwar expects that these new people will be his kind of people — he did say Kita boleh compete.

So the upshot is that we can expect two kinds of privately-owned media: BN-owned private media and Pakatan-allied private media.

Anwar did not deal with the question of the public media: Radio and Television Malaysia; Suara Malaysia; Film Negara; Information Department. Will they now, under a Pakatan Rakyat government, switch sides and become Pakatan-controlled media, just as they have been Barisan-controlled media all these decades?

Going by what Anwar said, it appears possible that we will end up not just with a two-party system in politics, but also a two-party system in media.

That’s not what the country needs, not what the country deserves. Formalising today’s political fish-market in the form of two groups of media houses screaming at each other does not amount to even a half-step towards a free press.

Malaysians deserve a free press that is independent of political parties and independent of business proxies for political parties.

Malaysians deserve a free press that can give voice to their unspoken concerns, not a sponsored press that gives space and time to pander to the yammering and posturing of politicians, their flunkies, and their business patrons.

Give us a free press. And if you can’t — or won’t — then stop pretending that you care about the Fourth Estate’s role in a democracy.

Gobind Rudra is a former newspaper editor


And after BN, you think you’ll be in heaven?

Free Malaysia Today

By Gobind Rudra

By all means work furiously to topple the Barisan Nasional if you wish: but the Malaysian fight is to restore democracy, justice and fairness to all, and a life in which every Malaysian is accorded his full dignity. That is the true task before all Malaysians.

They must not allow agitators and activists to fool them into thinking that their task is solely to put Pakatan Rakyat in power, and then rest easy for the next five years.

The task to restore democracy and justice will remain, no matter who is in power.

Political party activists and agitators would prefer that you do not think about that. The agitator prefers you to keep thinking only about the parties. They have their own reasons, and their job (some are paid directly, some paid indirectly and many not paid) is to remove one set of politicians and replace them with another.

That is not our task, as citizens.

All Malaysians must recognise that politicians and political parties are merely vehicles by which the citizen can move towards the ultimate goal — that goal being democracy and justice (or perhaps for some Muslims, an Islamic state and Islamic justice).

The Barisan Nasional does not represent democracy and justice. Neither does the Pakatan Rakyat represent democracy and justice. The Democratic Action Party is not democracy in action. Parti Keadilan Rakyat is not justice in action. Parti Islam SeMalaysia is sometimes Islamic in action — but democracy and justice cuts across race and religion.

Those words “democratic” and “justice” in the names of those parties are merely marketing slogans. Political parties exist to secure power. They will “sell” whatever you will buy.

End of Barisan - then what?

End of Barisan – then what?

Parties are not a popular movement for democracy or justice. They are about achieving power. Whether they will deliver democracy or justice is another thing altogether.

To achieve political power, politicians use the words “democracy” and “justice” to get to the top. After they get to the top, if they are honest, they will deliver their version of “democracy”, their version of “justice”.

Their version of democracy and justice may not be anything at all like what the people want or need — because parties, like companies, must deal with the demands of their members (and not you, the public) and the demands of their business, corporate and government sponsors (and not you, the public).

The parties and their hordes of political agitators will serve their members, their friends, and their sponsors first — long before they serve you, the people.

So what must the people do?

Humankind has had to deal with this many, many times before. None of this is new.

Western political philosophers have said:

  • Eternal vigilance is the price of all liberty
    (Wendell Phillips (1811-1884), US abolitionist and columnist
  • That means stay on our guard at all times no matter who is in power and hold them to account all the time

  • There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men.
    Edmund Burke (1729-1797), author, statesman, political philosopher
  • That means never completely trust those buggers in office, those buggers who hold power, and always be suspicious of them and their motives.

  • If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.
    James Madison (1751-1836), US political theorist, 4th US president
  • That means that those who achieve power are not angels — and the people must always keep politicians under their control, and not be controlled by politicians.

Changing a govt does not restore democracy and justice
No matter who comes into power, the people must always remain on their toes, and never give their full trust to those with power. That’s easier said than done, because the people will be given a different story from the hordes of agitators, propagandists, activists, businessmen, lawyers, advertising men, salesmen, contractors and anybody else who stands to profit or gain from those in charge.

The people must always try to see through their bullshit.

The people matter. Politicians and parties do not matter.

Gobind Rudra is a former newspaper editor

* Includes minor amendments to the text published at Free Malaysia Today


IF this, Barisan wins ELSE Pakatan… so let’s sack the messenger

Azrul Azwar: a modest proposal

Azrul Azwar: a modest proposal

Economist Azrul Azwar Ahmad Tajuddin, the now-controversial “If…Then…Else” analyst, won the rapt attention of a Penang audience last Tuesday when he presented his modest proposal of three possible general election outcomes.

Modest or not, it has left him suspended as chief economist at Bank Islam, facing the possible sack.

Yet he had presented essentially the same analysis without controversy in Malaysia before (at least in Penang at a forum by what was then the Socio-Economic Research Institute). It was not until the Singapore Regional Outlook Forum in January that his employer reacted with fury.

How much of Bank Islam’s reaction came as a result of the breathless news reporting of his analyses, or the fact that it took place in Singapore, or the fact that he is a member of Parti Keadilan Nasional, or all three, is difficult to tell.

Certainly the hyperbole must have had some bearing in the explosion. Former NST editor Syed Nadzri Syed Harun, for example, decrying heroic depictions of Azrul, said in a recent piece at Free Malaysia Today:

According to news reports, Azrul Azwar made a “knowledgeable forecast” at a forum in Singapore last week that Pakatan would narrowly beat Barisan Nasional in the general election. His expert view, according to the reports, was that a fallout would result from the Pakatan victory with the stock market set to respond in knee-jerk fashion as well as an extended period of perceived instability.

If that was typical of the reporting, it was certainly misleading.

Facing sack for ‘telling the truth’ – not quite

Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng in his introductory remarks at the Penang Institute economic forum also raised the level of bombast by saying that Azrul was, more or less, being crucified by Bank Islam “for telling the truth”. Even by the usual overblown propagandistic style of opposition politicians, that was stretching the truth a fair bit.

We can take it that Azrul, a professional economist, made his analysis in all honesty. But he wasn’t there to “tell the truth” about a Pakatan Rakyat victory (as the chief minister and DAP leader would have wanted the audience to believe).

He was, in the fashion of all economists, presenting three sets of outcomes based on a certain set of factors. In other words, IF we take into account A,B,C D and other factors THEN Barisan may win ELSE Pakatan may win OR Barisan may lose big.

Barisan could win (likely, the best-case scenario), Pakatan could win (more likely, the base-case scenario) or Barisan may lose badly (less likely, the worst-case scenario).

You don’t need an expert economist to say that. But you need an expert analyst to put together the factors that will produce such results AND THEN say how business and share markets will react to these results. They go together. That was his paper.

News reporters, though, generally prefer something more definite, more dramatic. Just give us the answer, not “maybe this” or “maybe that”. And politicians, like sensational supermarket tabloids, prefer the overdramatic. “Elvis spotted at downtown nightclub!” “Michael Jackson alive!” “Pakatan will win! Azrul says so!” Not quite. If only.

So what did he say? Don’t panic

Azrul made no outright “prediction” of a Pakatan victory, but set out how a possible Pakatan victory was one of three results based on certain factors. (If you used different factors, you would get different results. Garbage in, garbage out.)

Slight of figure and modest in tone, Azrul cut an unimposing presence in contrast to the expansiveness of fellow panellists Prof Woo Wing Thye, Prof Ahmad Nasution and Dr Wong Chin Huat at the Penang forum, though he drew quizzical glances when he ended his salaams with “Bonjour”, needing an explanation that he spoke French. Ah, well, that’s all right then.

It was his slides that captured attention, with cameras popping up to record each densely-packed frame — obviously too much to absorb at a glance and needing more study at home.

Or for some, perhaps just to back up their own versions of “Azrul says we’ll win! I’ve got proof!” and then to produce the magical slide at the right time.

The rest of what he had to say was also fairly uncontroversial — it’s been five years, everybody’s got used to having Pakatan people running governments, the world hasn’t collapsed, if Pakatan takes over, the world won’t collapse because businessmen have had time to figure what’s best for them, and after elections it’s always business as usual.

So there you are, then. Don’t panic. The world isn’t about to end. Azrul says so.

The so-called prediction:

Three possible outcomes - Azrul Azwar's analysis

Three possible outcomes – Azrul Azwar’s analysis

The factors he took into account:

Factors that Azrul used to determine his analysis

Factors that Azrul used to determine his analysis

If Najib’s govt is illegitimate, so is every Pakatan govt

Lim Kit Siang’s political bullshit for the past week goes like this: the last general election was March 8. Elections are held every five years. So Najib’s government is illegitimate.

That’s bullshit.

Elections are elections. Governments are formed after elections when Parliament is formed.

Kit Siang’s bullshit

Kit Siang's bullshit about illegitimate govt

Rafizi’s bullshit

Rafizi's bullshit

If you follow Kit Siang’s logic, then every Pakatan Rakyat state government is illegitimate. Including the state government run by his son Lim Guan Eng.

If you apply the logic of 8 March 2008 to 8 March 2013, then Lim Guan Eng’s DAP-run Penang government is just as illegitimate as the Barisan Nasional-run federal government.

And that’s bullshit because governments are not constituted from election dates. Lim Kit Siang is a lawyer, he knows that. Lim Kit Siang is also a politician. He knows how to twist the facts inside out to turn it into propaganda.

Politician’s talk equals propaganda equals bullshit.

Bullshit smells the same from any side


Kit Siang’s caretaker bullshit

In 2008, a month before the general election, Lim Kit Siang filed suit for the High Court to declare a caretaker government … during the dissolution of Parliament until the swearing-in of the new Cabinet after the general election.

Kit Siang’s morality bullshit

Kit Siang's bullshit: what he did in 2008

Now in 2013, lawyer Kit Siang accepts that Parliament will be automatically dissolved on April 28 but, just like a lawyer, he twists around to argue that morally Najib Razak should behave like a caretaker government from March 8.

Why should Najib do so? He has no constitutional reason to do so.

The DAP and Pakatan Rakyat, crowing with their partial 2008 victory, want to rub Barisan Nasional’s noses in the March 8 date for their own psychological warfare. But since when does any prime minister of any country forego his constitutional privileges in order to dance to the tune of an opposition politician?

Dubious morality by Kit Siang

All governments — including the five states under Pakatan administration — have the right under the constitution to decide when to dissolve the legislatures. The Pakatan states could on their own call for early state elections. Why don’t they just go ahead and do so instead of shouting at Najib?

Bullshit smells the same from any side


Free media – what did Anwar really say?

Itu saya kata..bila kita take over the government – Insyallah, God willing – orang kata What do we do? On the whole, send them to jail…
TAK BOLEH! Kita bukan Umno! Kita bukan BN!

Kita guarantee constitutional guarantees…kita janji rule of law… Tak boleh retributive justice, bukan boleh kita dendam, tak boleh… Itu beza kita…

Ada orang kata Ban TV3!


Kita FREE media…YES!

Kita bagi FULL FREEDOM – siapa nak bawa television, radio, surat khabar… FIRST DAY of the new Pakatan Rakyat government… (cheers, applause).

Dan kita ada confidence…kita boleh compete dengan these racist media organs…

Kerana. Orang. Nak. Media. Yang. Bebas. Dan bukan: media yang memperlembukan rakyat (cheers, applause).

‘Plagiarism’ and lies in official govt booklet

Govt endorses anonymous blogger’s anti-Semitic remarks
Blog article used almost word for word in govt booklet

A pro-Umno blogger’s article has been used almost word-for-word in a federal government “guidebook on current affairs” which contains unsubstantiated allegations, unverified assertions, misleading content and inaccuracies.

In doing so, without attributing the article to the blog, the federal government has

  • Plagiarised an anonymous blog
  • given endorsement to anti-Semitic remarks
  • endorsed unsubstantiated and unverified comment
  • brought up a 15-year-old issue about the Asian financial crisis
  • used federal funds and facilities for a clearly party political attack

In any properly-run parliamentary democracy, the minister responsible would be told to resign.

The government’s “guidebook” amounts to a taxpayer-funded propaganda booklet for the general election, which must be held by April 2013.
» Compare the articles side by side

Blogger’s anti-Semitic remarks reproduced by Government of Malaysia’s guidebook for Information Ministry staff

About RM300,000 is to be spent producing 50,000 copies of the book for distribution to the public, the information minister said, and the guidebook used by the Information Ministry, Radio-Television Malaysia and Bernama.

Many of the issues in the booklet are political and reflect Umno’s attacks on Pakatan Rakyat and especially on Anwar Ibrahim. Federal government policies activities are given a political perspective. Continue reading

How the DAP looks just like Umno

If there is one thing politicians have one thing in common, it is that they crave power, but always claim to do so only on behalf of the people. Malaysian politicians have another thing in common: they talk about high principles such as respect for the Constitution but in practice treat the Constitution like a piece of toilet paper.

Some examples of this can be seen in all kinds of little ways in Penang, in the DAP’s practices and working attitudes (not their grand speechifying) towards constitutional governance.

One is in the giving out of cash money to some people. It says: you can be bought.
Continue reading