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Mkini: Perils of a politically united media
By George Orwell

30/5/2001 8:40 pm Wed

[Rancangan mengambil alih media bahasa Cina itu amat berbahaya buat BA. Serangan minit terakhir (last minute strike) oleh SEMUA akhbar Cina yang pro MCA menjelang hari pembuangan undi akan mencederakan sokongan kaum Cina terhadap BA. Inilah tektik BN sekian lama yang pastinya akan berkitar semula. Dengan Harakah cuma dua kali sebulan, ada sukar untuk serangan itu dipatahkan. Di sinilah internet harus memainkan peranan yang lebih berkesan dan tanggungjawab itu terletak di bahu para pembaca yang budiman - SEBARKAN!! - Editor] Malaysiakini Letters, May 29

Perils of a politically united media

George Orwell

4:44pm, Tue: If we look at the controversial takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press by the MCA-controlled Huaren Holdings Sdn Bhd which also controls the English-language Star, in the holistic political context, we see the "good" dictatorship promised by Dr Mahathir, has already been implemented in the Malaysian media environment.

Let me elaborate. Assuming the deal is successful, MCA will control the Star, Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press, while Umno owns RTM (although it is technically state-funded), the New Straits Times, Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian, Business Times and The Malay Mail. Both Umno and MCA therefore control most of the major daily media. (forgive me, I do not read Tamil and so I cannot comment on the Tamil media).

Sin Chew Jit Poh is supposed to be independent but is it so? Or can it be so in the environment? It is already widely speculated that Sin Chew's boss Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King and his Pemadangan Sinar Sdn.Bhd are also participating in the MCA-Hume deal. If that is true, then Sin Chew Jit Poh is also in the inner circle. Both MCA and the Sarawak United Peoples' Party (SUPP) to which Tiong is affiliated are major Chinese parties in the Barisan Nasional.

True, all the controlled Chinese media might still appear to be free and fair for the moment, and in entertainment, horse-racing, healthcare and movie star sections, but what about on the eve of the coming general elections and during its campaign? What about the economic and financial sections?

In fact, it is even more dangerous for these controlled Chinese media to be seen to be free and fair now because once people believe it and it re-establishes its credibility, it can do even greater damage to the opposition, especially PAS.

When they strike at the last moment before the voting day in a coordinated manner, the impact will be fatal to the opposition, especially PAS. Once the damage is done, there will be no use complaining because ignorant voters (especially non-Malays) have already "made their choice". Another four or five years will come and voters will be too busy and will forget about it. Young voters will have no idea that their press are being controlled.

In foreign affairs, one-sided views and reports are only to be expected from a small group of business interests closely associated with the Umno regime and its international friends like Burma, China, North Korea and Cuba. That is only politics.

In economic and financial matters, Umno, MCA, SUPP and the business interests associated with them can conspire to manipulate the wholly controlled selection of economic and financial news, as well as commentaries, to fit their interests or mislead small-time local investors, as well as foreign investors and governments.

And the Press Council to be set up will be stuffed by journalists working only for two commercial groups united in politics under one idea: preserve Umno, MCA and BN.

International critics will again see and listen to only one voice from journalists from the New Straits Times, Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian, Sin Chew Jit Poh, Nanyang Siang Pau, China Press and the Star, pronouncing: "Don't meddle with our domestic affairs!".

Good and dissenting journalists will have no choice of a better boss because all bosses have already ganged up.