Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Strange, now the critics are suing!

Bangsar, 4 May: I say good luck to the PM's press secretary Tengku Sarifuddin Tengku Ahmad, a former colleague of mine at the New Straits Times in the 80s. He is being sued for defamation by Mukhriz, the son of Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Dr M and two other individuals had just last month filed a lawsuit against PM Najib Razak, Sarifuddin's boss.

I was also sued for defamation in 2006 by the very powerful friends and media advisors of the PM then, so I can appreciate how taxing it's going to for Sarifuddin.

I can see the irony, too. Back then, it was the PM's men who were trying to suppress dissent and intimidate the critics by suing them left and right.

This time around, the so-called critics of the PM are the ones filing legal suits against the Prime Minister himself and now his men.

How times have changed.

So if you are a supporter of Najib Razak, tread with care. You could be next to be served a letter of demand.

Tengku Sharifuddin's response to Mukhriz's lawsuit:

4 May 2016 

1.       It is ironic that Dato' Seri Mukhriz Mahathir has chosen to sue me. It is ‎his father Tun Mahathir Mohamed who always claims that the law is being used to silence critics of Prime Minister Najib Razak. ‎
2.       Unlike Tun Mahathir, I haven't made any wild allegations. My‎ opinions are fair comment based on actions by Tun Mahathir, Dato' Seri Mukhriz and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who led the failed campaign to unseat the Prime Minister.
3.       They were interested parties, and I believe motivated by ambition and desire for power. Many think that Tun Mahathir wanted Tan Sri Muhyiddin to be his proxy Prime Minister, with Dato' Seri Mukhriz as Deputy Prime Minister until he was ready to take over. ‎
4.       Their legal action shows that I have hit a nerve. It is understandable that Dato' Seri Mukhriz is emotionally distressed that for once his father has failed to get his way.
5.       ‎Tun Mahathir knows that there is a much faster way than the courts to stop all the speculation about his motivation for trying to replace the Prime Minister. ‎All he needs to do is state who he wants instead as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. ‎
6.       His consistent failure to answer this one simple question betrays the truth: the objective of Tun Mahathir's Anti Najib Campaign is to pave the way for his son.‎
7.       Looking at my comments in the context of the entire episode, I'm confident it will be clear that what I said is fair and represents my reading of the actions of Dato' Seri Mukhriz and his father without any malice. ‎
8.       So I'm not disturbed by this legal action. I look forward to seeing Dato' Seri Mukhriz and discussing this further in court. ‎‎‎‎ 


Friday, April 29, 2016

AG Apandi Ali and Press Freedom Part 2 [the WSJ's robust misreporting on Malaysia]

The WSJ misses by a mile but "we stand by our story"

KL, 29 April: In my previous posting h e r e, I wrote about the Attorney-General's two questions and promised I would continue with my notes on his first question [Does the Press Freedom Index really reflect Malaysia's Freedom?]. The conundrum that the WSJ has suddenly gotten itself into over its overzealous - and 100 per cent inaccurate -  March 12 report on Malaysia's new Bank Negara Governor (below), however, is too fantastic to ignore: here's a perfect example of the fake news/half-truths/absolute lies that corrupt today's journalism; which was what prompted Apandi Ali's second question during his Malaysian Press Institute talk the other day: Does Society Benefit from Fake News?

You got it so wrong, Sarifuddin tells WSJ

Newspapers run speculative stories as part of reputation/credibility building. But they make major speculations only when they are absolutely sure that they will be proven right. That's why when they do get it wrong, they quickly own up. They apologise, sometimes. They replace the errant journalist or editor, or both. They don't stand by stories that have been proven to be NOT true. But the WSJ seems to practise a different culture. U-turn? Aw, hehe. What can I say?
Victim of WSJ's misreporting:
"These foreign media should stop their attacks on Malaysia

So, even the WSJ's "candidate" for the Bank Negara job has come out to attack the newspaper. Is there recourse for the victim? Can he sue WSJ? His name was never even submitted to the Agong for the post!

The real, new Bank Negara Governor

The AG Apandi Ali might advise Irwan Serigar Abdullah to sue the WSJ but to me that's going to be too much work. Fake news, false news ... they don't benefit society at all. Half truths are even more dangerous. But a lawsuit is not going to solve the problem. If you plan to sue The Malaysian Chronicle, WSJ or the Sarawak Report for every false news, the AG's courts will be too busy to mete out justice to other, more bona fide cases.  

To be cont'd .... Does the (RSF's) Press Freedom Index reflect Malaysia's freedom?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

AG Apandi Ali and Press Freedom

pic by FMT
KL, 27 April 2016: At his luncheon talk with editors and media practitioners at the Royale Chulan yesterday, the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Apandi Ali, threw his audience two questions:  
1. Does the Press Freedom Index really reflect the freedom in Malaysia?
2. Does society benefit from false news? 
R. Nadeswaran, the seasoned journalist, took the floor to respond to the berita palsu question, which Apandi had asked at the very end of his hour-long talk. As the answer to the question must have been rather obvious (even if it had been asked by someone else other than the AG), Nades chose instead to lament to the microphone about  the unbecoming behaviour of some newsmakers (politicians, especially) who conveniently blame journalists for wrongful reporting each time they find themselves in trouble for the things they say in the media. Can't action be taken against these morons?
Apandi's answer was interesting. "Sue them," he said. Another seasoned journalist,  Nuraina A. Samad, seated beside me, quipped (more to herself): "Journalists don't do that." Which is a fact: we don't sue politicians who claim that we have misquoted them, we are just happy to know the morons for who they really are!
Apandi's response tells me a little bit more about the AG who has so far been associated, rightly or wrongly, only with the 1MDB issue and the fact that he had been brought in to replace Gani Patail, the AG who was said (never confirmed) to have been on the verge of charging the Prime Minister of the country for some crime ... *
That Apandi is a doer more than he is a talker. With this AG, I think it is straightforward: if someone breaks the law, arrest him, charge him. If you don't understand the law, seek legal advice. If you understand the law, helps others comprehend. If you can sue someone ass' off, take him to court. "Sometimes you have to teach this people a lesson," he told Nades. I like. 
* Gani was also said to be ill at the time

To be cont'd ... Does the RSF's 2016 index reflect our freedom?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

3,954 duped by the propaganda against Tabung Haji

Read more h e r e

Bangsar, 19 April: Ever since the anonymous blog Benchmark cried "bailout!" at Tabung Haji's purchase of a piece of TRX land from 1MDB back in May last year, 3,954 depositors have decided to close their accounts with the Malaysian pilgrimage fund, either because they were against the deal or because they believed the propaganda that Tabung Haji was going to go down following the purchase (together with their money, of course). Out of these, 3,105 also cancelled their Haj plans.  
Well, neither the 1MDB nor the Tabung Haji Fund is bankrupt today; on the contrary, both are doing quite well: the former has announced a RM2.3 billion surplus and the latter paid generous dividends.  
Tabung Haji has some 8.8 million depositors, so the 3,954 loss is negligible, really. However, the Fund must try and bring back each and every one of these depositors who had been duped by the propaganda against Tabung Haji.  
So far, I was told that 45 of them have re-registered (for Haj and re-opened their accounts) after having realised their folly.