Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Fake news vs Real journalism

Journalists have always viewed any move to regulate the media industry with suspicion. When the Mahathir Administration was forcing the OSA down our throats in the 80s, the NUJ marched against it. Every year we called on the government to review and abolish laws stifling our freedom. Even when some among us came up with the idea for a Media Council, so that we could "self-regulate", the rest of us viewed the idea suspiciously. It is in journalists' nature to be skeptical. It's not that we, journalists, think we should be above the law; it's just that we know politicians - and businesses - given a chance, will alway try to control the media for their own interests rather than for the interest of the larger society.

But where the proposed anti-fake news law is concerned, I am very clear where I stand. Fake news is not just a threat to society, it is already a menace that must be curbed, stopped, regulated. Read Malaysia proposes up to 10 years' jail, fines for publishers of "fake news"

Any journalist who says he or she is against an attempt to curb fake news, purportedly in the name of press freedom, is talking cock. 

Half truths and outright lies are not journalism.

I disagree with the NUJ when it says that thought the target of the Bill is those who create fake news, "media organisations would also likely be stifled" by the anti-fake news law. If anyone were to benefit, it will be these media organisations, whose job it is to always verify the news that it sends out. I believe that fake news has, to quite a great extent, damaged the credibility of traditionally-trained journalists. 

If anyone is to fear the anti-fake news law, it would be the likes of Sarawak Report, Malaysian Chronicle and even The Malaysian Today, who are known to "shoot first, ask questions later". And a lot of Facebookers, bloggers and other social media "journalists".

But having said that, I stand with the NUJ on one important point:

"We are gravely concerned in allowing on party to have unquestionable power to remove articles it disagrees with ... (this) could be easily abused."  - NUJ president Chin Sung Chew (Critics react to anti-fake news bill)

There's talk that the power to determine a fake news will be left to the Courts. I think that's most impractical. Judges would preside over cases but they should not be tasked with deciding what's fake and what's not. YB Salleh Said Keruak should consider having a special committee comprising journalists, editors and communication experts to study every fake news case. Get an ex-judge to chair the committee. 

The committee does not have to be bipartisan like the PAC (which investigated the 1MDB issue) because this special committee on fake news, if you ask me, should not have any politician on board. None. Not even ex-politicians.

I would also review the penalties proposed by the Bill. RM500,000 is a huge sum even for media corporations to pay. We just need to remember a time, also during the 80s and then the 90s, when the Courts were happily meting out huge awards for defamation cases taken out by cronies against newspaper companies and journalists. 

We agreed that this was unfair and excessive so why do we want to go back to those dark ages?

Spotting a fake news is the easy part. We will also need to determine if the publisher of the fake news was aware that it was fake, or had taken steps to try and verify and validate the news. 

What if the news was from "official" sources and published by a government media? For example, the "tanah Felda hilang" issue, which was later confirmed by none other the PM himself to be "inaccurate reporting". Was there ill intentions there? Should we have jailed anyone for that "fake news"?

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Zahid's RM3,500 minimum wage for skilled workers

The Full Story H E R E 

Is a RM3,500 minimum monthly wage for skilled Malaysian workers something impossible? 

Two Syeds from Pakatan seem to think so and have protested via their Twitter and blog. I really don't know what their problem is. Instead of standing in the way, these Syeds should have welcomed Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi's proposal. For the sake of these workers, they should even volunteer to assist in any way. Should it turn out that RM3,500 as a minimum wage for skilled workers (and RM5,000 by 2030) is NOT doable at all, they can start poking fun at Zahid. And demand his resignation.

But I have a feeling the DPM has done his homework. He seems so sure of the idea that he's even asked the relevant ministry to establish a Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) Council and recruit him as its Chairman. 
“I am offering myself to chair and coordinate the TVET Council as I wish to promote the development of TVET, including the push for higher minimum wage.  
"At the moment, the number of skilled workers in the country stands at 28 per cent, which is lower than the 43 per cent benchmark for a developed country.” - RM3,500 minimum wage for skilled workers proposed
The current minimum pay for skilled workers in Malaysia is RM1,200. Foreign skilled workers in Malaysia are guaranteed a minimum salary of RM3,500 a month. 

How one of the Pakatan Syeds responded to Zahid's minimum wage for skilled workers:

... and how some of his commenters responded to him:

Aah, I can't seem to find the other Syed's blog posting now ...

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Umno's Letter to The Editor of Malaysiakini you ought to read

Updated 22/3:
Shahril Hamdan: Zombie 
Well, you can't please everybody. Commenter RD also ridiculed Shahril for not addressing the 1MDB affair or at the very least mention that name Jho Lo in his letter. To me that shows how focussed Shahril is but if you guys are really interested, still, after all the explanations and after all these years, listen again to what PAC deputy chairman YB Tan Seng Ghiaw said about 1MDB and PM Najib Razak after the Commission's lengthy investigation into the 1MDB affair.

Seng Ghiaw ni DAP totok, ok!

Original airtcleHere's why the unpolished gems in Umno should be allowed to come out more often to air their views. This letter to the editor published by the Malaysiakini penned by Shahril Hamdan is an excellent read, someone who does not care much for Umno told me. I blogged about the 31-year old exco member of Umno Youth once (The day Syed Saddiq made a name for his opponent, Sept 2017). Dira Abu Zahar is the other "star" in Puteri Umno who came out, seemingly out of nowhere, to shine. 
There are more, if BN chairman Najib Razak is interested to field younger candidates at the GE14. But quite a number of the old ones don't want to go ...

Mahathir is doing all this for Malaysia, right?

by Shahril Hamdan

COMMENT | I refer to the Malaysiakini article titled Mukhriz: Dad threw a fit when Umno tried to field me in election.
I find Mukhriz Mahathir's claim that his father, Dr Mahathir Mohamad threw a fit when Umno tried to field him as a candidate in the 1999 general election most amusing.
For starters, the late 1990s is now subject to some pretty extreme historical revisionism by Mahathir.
So I wouldn't put much stock in what he says he did or did not do in that period, since the versions change dramatically every so often.
But if we are on the subject of Mahathir throwing fits, the public should also be aware of the metaphorical one he had in more recent memory - when his son lost the bid to become one of the three Umno vice-presidents.
Might it be coincidental that, at that moment too, Mahathir stepped up his attacks against Umno and the prime minister personally?
If one didn't know better, one might say that Mahathir took his son's loss as a personal affront by Najib Abdul Razak, whom he perceived to have helped the three incumbents retain their spot.
If one didn't know better, one might find this perception ironic, considering the iron grip Mahathir himself had on Umno in his decades as president - deciding who wins what seat where and when.
The master craftsman
If one didn't know better, one might assume that Mahathir was further affronted by the fact that one particular person, Khairy Jamaluddin, did in fact very publicly campaign for Hishammuddin Hussein to the clear electoral detriment of Mukhriz in that close contest for the third VP spot.
If one didn't know better, one might say that Mahathir never got over the fact that after so many years of trying to “end” Khairy, the guy just wouldn't go gently into the good night.
But instead, he had the nerve to try, and then succeed, in defeating Mukhriz in the 2009 contest for Umno Youth chief.
If one didn't know better, one might say this latest intervention about stopping his son contesting as a candidate in 1999 is vintage Mahathir, acting out the concerned, principled, elderly statesman routine that belies the master craftsman of a politician he actually is.
He who uses everything at his disposal and pulls every emotional string at the most opportune times to secure what he truly wants – an unassailable legacy, Lee Kuan Yew style.
Alas, I guess we in BN ought to know better. Because surely Mahathir would not have the audacity to quit the party, rejoin and then quit again, form a new one, eat his own words, make countless bewildering U-turns on everything and culminate in signing off on a manifesto that essentially seeks to undo his own policies in office - for his own personal gain.
Surely we ought to know better. This has nothing to do with his narrow agenda or vendetta. He's just not that type of person, right? He's doing this for Malaysia, right?
SHAHRIL HAMDAN is an Umno Youth exco member.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Why Felda should disclose findings of forensic audit investigation

Keep the docs but share the findings, YB

240 DOCS LINKED TO PROBE. Well, I don't think people are interested in the 240 documents linked to forensic audit investigation into the Felda Jalan Semarak land's lost and found mystery. For the matter, I fear former DPM Muhyiddin Yassin himself would be lost under those piles of documents, just as he was with the 1MDB issue. 
But most Malaysians, I'm sure, would like to know the findings of that investigation. Who lost the land and how or why, for example. And, for the sake of credibility and transparency, people really would not mind knowing who or which firm conducted that audit investigation. Of course, only when the whole investigation has been completed, YB Razali Ibrahim. No point giving  the people a blow-by-blow account of an on-going forensic audit probe. This isn't football. 
I am sure the (new) Felda management would also want the people to know [1. findings of the audit report 2. the company that conducted the audit]. Why? Because it was Felda's own big boss Shahrir Samad who had highlighted the problem (the "lost" land)  in the first place. There was talk of fraud and abuse of power, etc. Surely, the people are owed the right to know if fraud was indeed committed. And if so, who are the culprits?

Monday, March 12, 2018

Checkmate Sarawak and (soon) Sabah

UPDATES, 13 March:
With Sabah safe in the bank, can Mahathir still topple Najib?
by A Voice says "Most Semenanjung voters are not aware of the relevance of Sabah and Sarawak for the general election. Without these two block of seats, the chances of toppling BN by "Pakatan DAP" will be of low probability."

original article:
The establishment of Petros, the Sarawak state oil and gas exploration firm, caught many by surprise. An industry player asked over dinner last week what PM Najib Razak was up to and how Petroleum Sarawak Berhad would affect how business is done. Nobody could come up with sure answers.

What's certain is that industry players aren't the only ones paying close attention. Politicians gearing up for the 14th general election are on their feet. Political mouthpieces in the Opposition have gone out to suggest that this was PM Najib Razak's election gimmick. But at the rate Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Tun Openg is gloating h e r e, we can safely rule it out as an empty promise by the Federal Government.

And now Foreign Minister Anifah Aman has made a public announcement to his fellow Sabahans that they are poised for good news from the Prime Minister. News with regards to Sabah's long-standing claims with Putrajaya. Anifah trying out some general election gimmick? Not likely. The Kimanis MP says he would quit Umno if Najib does not deliver. And Anifah percaya Najib tuna janji.

Sabah and Sarawak have long been regarded as the ruling coalition's "fixed deposit" but one the Opposition led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad had been hoping could be shaken by pitting Putrajaya against the locals over long-standing sensitive claims involving the two states. But with Petros and the likely 40% minimum guarantee for Sabah, things are suddenly looking tough for Pakatan Harapan in Sabah and Sarawak.

And it'll be tougher very quickly if the PM decides to pick a Sabahan or a Sarawakian as Malaysia's 2nd Deputy Prime Minister after the GE. The Opposition has always been talking about a Chinese as second DPM. 

A Sabahan, or a Sarawakian, would be more deserving for that post, if you ask me.

Harapan setinggi gunung, berderai menjadi debu [Theme song for Pakatan's GE14 manifesto]

Someone asked me yesterday. what I thought of Pakatan Harapan's manifesto for the 14th general election [which may happen next month or as late as in August].
The opening lines of BDB's 70s hit song Hatiku Luka Lagi jumped to mind:
Harapan setinggi gunungBerderai menjadi debu
Waltz straight to 1:05 to skip the Earth, Wind and Fire-styled dialogue. Still a catchy number, I tell yer:

Read  Kua Kia Song's What's lacking in Pakatan Harapan's manifesto posted by FMT 

I agree with the Suaram chief: the Opposition's manifesto looks and smells of Barisan Nasional. But what does he expect? Pakatan Harapan is led by a former BN-Umno strongman, the man who was Prime Minister for 22 years. And whereas Kia Song thinks emulating the BN is not a good thing for the Opposition, the Pakatan Harapan's leaders obviously think otherwise. Dr Mahathir Mohamad has agreed to keep BR1M (he is a big opponent of BR1M before this, listing the cash aid scheme for the poor as one of the reasons why he said he had to oppose Najib Razak) if Pakatan comes to power.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Salut, Ng Jern-Fei

Jern-Fei, NST pic
Read Zaharah Othman's piece on PJ boy Ng Jern-Fei, 38, youngest human being ever to be made QC. It's the kind of story that makes your morning. You feel happy for another countryman who's doing extremely well overseas. And happier that (unlike some who have done well for themselves abroad) this man reserves kind words for his country of birth:
"... if this somehow represents a brain drain from Malaysia, I think the more accurate narrative is that, Malaysia has, through its education system, been able to produce individuals who are able to compete with the world’s best on the global stage."
Please read the Zaharah's full article h e r e.

All the best, Jern-Fei.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Cynthia, Mejar Huan and the fight against corruption, Malaysian style

Given her reputation, one might have expected Cynthia ready-to-be-called-CIA-agent Gabriel to ask Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to resign over his "strange"  claim of ignorance about the RM22 million undersea tunnel "payoff". 
But not even a rap on the DAP and Pakatan Harapan leader's  knuckles. Instead, the founder of the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), recipient of the prestigious 2017 NED award, and fierce opponent of 1MDB and the Scorpene deal merely urged the Penang government to end its contract with Zenith over the RM22m believed to be bribes paid for Guan Eng's proposed RM6.3 billion tunnel project.
If Guan Eng doesn't end its contract with Zenith, "the public may be confused", she said.

Her words, according to The Sun, not mine. 

Is that it from Cynthia and C4, then? I hope not but I fear that's it, really. Some Malaysians fight corruption and abuses as long as they do not implicate the people or factions they are party to. To them, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Attorney-General and the courts are doing their job only if they go after people or factions they are not party to. That's how things work. 
But because of that, fortunately, we get to depend on other Malaysian individuals like Huan I-have-been-vidicated Cheng Guan to try and dig up the wrong-doings, corruption, and abuses of powerful people, including politicians like Guan Eng, that the likes of Cynthia Gabriel may choose to ignore, downplay or even excuse. 

The next NED award recipient, perhaps? :-)

Thursday, March 01, 2018

It's March, Let's read The Quran!

I shall begin my m(M)arch by rejoining Anas Zubedy and his #LRTQ2018 campaign in the hope that I, myself, and me as well as my Dear Readers will benefit, sedikit sebanyak, from this dude's initiative and from the Holy Book's guidance and boundless derivatives. 

Here's the link to Zubedy's Share The Quran e-book, A Collection of Selected Verses from the Quran. Happy Reading to us ...