Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Arrest of TMI journalists: Need to defend not just Freedom but also Integrity of the Press

Lionel and Black with their lawyer Shahredzan Johan. Pic TMI

I was wrong ... When I bumped into Jahabar Saddiq after last week's Friday prayers, he cheekily asked me: 
"Would you like a photograph with me before I go in?". 
He was referring, of course, to my previous day's blog posting All's not well at Angkasapuri (March 26) in which I slammed the authorities for not taking serious note at TMI for an article that could cause friction between its readers and the Monarchy, an important institution in this country. 
My reaction to Jahabar's suggestion was sure. "Ah, you won't go in lah." 
I was wrong! The police this morning arrested Jahabar, the TMI editor, and his boss Ho Kay Tat, and three other editors - Lionel Morais, Amin Shah "Black" Iskandar, and Zulkifli Sulong
Now, I may not agree with TMI's brand of journalism most of the times: they spin instead of just report, but I certainly cannot agree with the arrest of the five journalists over the errorneous article they published (whether or not with the intent to ridicule the Council of Rulers or just because they were too lazy to double check with the party concerned).  
But having said that, I must ask my fellow journalists and bloggers out there to please stick to the truth at all times when they report a news. 
Journalists have a duty to report the truth. Not half-truths. Journalists are trained to verify all information they get all the time. It is highly irresponsible for a political portal like TMI, for example, to publish a statement purportedly issued by the Council of Rulers on a contentious issue without checking and confirming its authenticity. 
My stand on this matter has been consistent and the five TMI editors aren't the frist to be facing a charge under the Sedition Act. 
Back in 2007, when Raja Petra Kamaruddin and Syed Akbar Ali were charged with sedition, I came out in support of them in my capacity as President of the National All-Blogs Alliance ....  
To be continued ...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Othman Wok, a Singapore Malay horror story

Updated: Lee Kuan Yew wouldn't have been Prime Minister if not for Malays like Othman Wok, writes veteran journalist Zam h e r e. I understand that Zam has a soft spot for Othman but he has is also a fierce albeit unofficial spokesman of Pak Samad, the Malay (well, ok, Javanese) who co-founded PAP with LKY before most of us were born ...

Original Article:

A. Samad Ismail's friends & foes: If Othman Wok is NOT in this picture, it's because he never was in the picture

Most Malaysians don't know Othman Wok. Well, not to worry my fellow Malaysians because, frankly, not many Singaporeans know who Othman Wok is, either. 

Growing up in Singapore during the Sixties and Seventies, I knew that Othman Wok was the only Melayu in Lee Kuan Yew's Cabinet (he served as Singapore's Social Services Minister from 1963-77). We were generally not impressed with him. Not back then, at least. Maybe he became more impressive after he quit politics to publish his novel on Singapore ghost stories ...

The children of three-time ISA detainee A. Samad Ismail know Encik Othman better than I do and they are shocked by Pakcik Othman's unprovoked atack on their late father as he attempts to immortalize his Lee Kuan Yew, his beloved late boss, and paints himself as someone with more substance than he actually has. 

Please read Nuraina's Samad Ismal: Of friends and foes.
For reasons, perhaps known only to Othman who considers my father "a good friend", he chose to repeat and publish a false allegation made decades ago against my late father - that he was a "card-carrying member" of the Malayan Communist Party. A charge my father had denied following his release in 1981 after four-and-half years in detention under the ISA. 

I write, on behalf of my sisters and brothers, to say that  - with due respect to Othman, we find the reference made of our father despicable and a deliberate act to malign his name. 

We will not be drawn into further remarks to set the record straight and to clear our father's name for obvious reasons. Individiuals  (from both sides of the causeway) responsible for the detention of our father are all dead and gone.
There are lot of materials on Pak Samad. Briefly, he  co-founded PAP with Lee Kuan Yew but quickly became persona non grata because, well, he was simply too influential, especially among the trade unionists and the non-Malays, and that was the kind of competition that Lee Kuan Yew did not need. Malaysia's second PM, Tun Razak, sought Pak Samad's counsel regularly after Samad settiled down in Malaysia but as soon as Razak died, the keris and daggers came out of the sarongs of Umno people who felt that he was a threat to them. He was detained under the ISA throughout the tenure of Hussein Onn's premiership, released only after Dr Mahathir Mahathir became Prime Minister in 1981. 

If you do have comments to leave, please leave them at Jalan Sudin h e r e.

All's not well at Angkasapuri ...

Why nobody's interested in The Malaysian Insider. Nur Jazlan Tok Mat's Public Accounts Committee's discovery at the Multimedia and Communications Minsitry [RTM's news centre without equipment, The Mole 24 March] wasn't all that shocking, actually.  
Shabery: Lacks support
For years, Angkasapuri has been dogged by talk of shady deals involving senior ministry officials and serious baggage as a result of a generally corrupt system. The extremely hardworking Shabery Cheek was facing an uphill task from the first day he became Minister; now I hear not all is well between him and Jailani Johari, the Deputy Minister that most of us have heard very little of, remembered by yours truly and fellow bloggers as one who was helping run the MCMC like a fiefdom once upon a time. 
JJ, well remembered at MCMC
"The Ministry is too small for two of them," said a pal recently, who reminded me that Shabery and JJ both hailed from Terengganu.  
At Bernama TV*, staff have regularly not been getting paid regularly. and there's no solution in sight. It's not a new problem but somehow these people in authority have allowed the matter to fester. They did appoint a professional to head the MCMC with a view of empowering the Commission after JJ had left (and later promoted to Deputy Minister) but recently his contract was mysteriously not renewed. Since then very little has been heard of M C M C ... 
And now a three-year old, RM100 million news centre that has no equipment! 
Is it a wonder then that nobody seems to be keeping an eye at all at what's happing in our cyberworld, at what kind of malicious half-truths and nonsense our people are feeding on? 
As of this morning, on my short blog roll alone, the same tales that reflect poorly on the Ministry:

p.s. Bernama TV isn't the only tv station having a hard time. ABN, which burst into the limelight just a little of two years ago, is not having such a good time either. A friend complains that he has not been paid for two months and that people are being forced to leave. ABN is owned by Kenneth Eswaran, whos said to have close ties with Rosmah Mansor, the PM's wife. But then they say that about anything else that they don't quite agree with them. don't they?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why Nazri's "stupid" remark isn't stupid at all

Stupid to discuss Hudud: Nazri 

No room for discussion. Some in the social media are mocking the "stupid" remark made by Nazri Aziz with regards to Hudud, but Nazri (or "Chief" as he's called by the Umno faithfuls) is actually one of the smartest persons in his party and one of the most consistent: as a party member, he has the track record as a fearless defender of the party President to the extent that he would attack even a former party president if he had to. Remember how vicious the Chief was when he attacked Dr Mahathir Mohamad to defend the untenable Abdullah Ahmad Badawi? 

Well, I heard he'd made his peace with the Tun a little while after Najib Razak became PM. I'm not sure if Najib had put him up to that, knowing how Najib is with respecting his elders but, as a result, we've seen less of Nazri's attack mode in the past couple of years. The "stupid" remark is probably the strongest words that have come from the Chief in a long while. It is also probably the harshest on those who back the PAS' Hudud.

But we cannot and must not take Nazri's remark at face value. The Chief is not implying that all of us are stupid for discussing the PAS Hudud. His words are, really, meant for his colleagues in the Barisan Nasional, those making all kinds of statements - some stupid and some even threatening - as if Umno and BN under Najib Razak's watch were really going to embrace PAS Hudud. 

If you notice, Najib hasn't been discussing Hudud, not openly at least. The prominent blogger Annie does not think this is a sign of weakness; on the contrary, Annie thinks that the PM is handling the Hudud issue really well: Najib being smart on hudud (March 24)]. 

"[Najib] is staying out of it and letting the Pakatan people, especially DAP and PAS to continue whacking each other over the nonsense. DAP in particular is now very anxious to drag BN into the rig as they needed PAS to get distracted by whatever official stance BN will come out with on the matter."

But sooner or later, the PM will have to spell out his (and BN's) stance on Hudud: that PAS' dream will NOT be implemented in Malaysia as long as he's in charge and as long as the BN rules. That has always been the stand of this Government since the start. It's one of the few things that unite even political foes like Dr Mahathir and Musa Hitam! Where Hudud is concerned, there is no room for discussion. And that's what Nazri is actually saying. 

p.s. Helen Ang thinks that Najib will eventually cave in to the pressure for Hudud to be implemented throughout Malaysia. I think if the PM allows room for negotiation on the matter, that would probably be the outcome. Read her Okay, bye ... for now.