Monday, February 25, 2019

They don't make press aides like they used to

Dear press aides, stop being entitled jerks - courtesy The Mole

“Knowing now that RTM was merely following its SOP (standard operating procedure) in showing only the Prime Minister’s speech during the live telecast of the CNY (Chinese New Year) celebration in Seremban, I wish to apologise for my Facebook post dated Feb 17, 2019. I support media independence and media freedom and would love that one day RTM can be truly transformed into high quality, professional public broadcaster." Lim Swee Kuan, press officer to the Transport Minister, on Facebook

Puchong, 25 Feb: Yeah, right. And I would love that one day, knowing that day will not come, that YB Anthony Loke's press officer can be truly transformed into a high quality, professional officer ...

That Lim Swee Kuan had the cheek to take a high-and-mighty position on media "professionalism" after his faux pas is a joke that won't make anyone's Monday better. We know now that Anthony Loke's press aide did not know the first thing about how the Press works. In other words, Lim didn't know his job! If he expects others to be high-quality, professional, and so on, he should try to be professional himself. 
Not need to be so high, lah.

I was going to kick Lim's butt, but Zaidi Azmi beat me to it. And just as well. I couldn't have done it better; it is Zaidi and his current crop of fellow journalists who have to deal with inept press officers like Lim. Read his Dear press aides, stop being entitled jerks!

Yes, they don't make press secretaries like they used to, for sure.

Zaidi mentioned my ex-boss A. Kadir Jasin in his commentary. I can only imagine how AKJ might really feel deep down inside. As the numero uno of NSTP and the unofficial chief of all chief editors back in the Eighties and Nineties, AKJ was the person Cabinet ministers, if they were smart, would go to when they needed high quality, professional press aides. 

The current Prime Minister, the former Prime Minister, the waiting Prime Minister as well as all the former Finance Ministers since Daim Zaiuddin and several other ministers during the 80s and 90s, had top grade press aides who came personally recommended and meticulously chosen by AKJ. 

I kid you not.

Some press secs went very far. Liow Tiong Lai, the former MCA president, was press aide to Lim Ah Lek when Lim was the Labour Minister. Former Bernama journalist G. Palanivel was brought in by S. Samy Vellu as press secretary when he was Works Minister and MIC boss. Palani went on to become MIC president himself. 

All of them had one thing in common: they understood perfectly how the media worked. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

"Just abolish the Haj subsidies"

TTDI, 21/2/2019: I know many are following the juicy exchanges on the state of affairs at Tabung Haji, the (supposedly embattled) pilgrims fund, between the uber blogger A Voice and seasoned ex-Utusan Malaysia scribes who are now digital journalists at BebasNews. The "fight", some calls it that, revolves around the curious police reports lodged by the New management of TH against the Old, the antics of the so-called Empress Dowager at the helm of the New, and a few matters close to TH contributors' pockets like returns and dividends. Basically, the blogger, in this corner, is seen as sympathetic with the Old while the ex-Utusan's portalists, in the other corner, are ganging up with the New against the Old. But whether they express it or not in their writings, they are both still trying to defend the integrity of the institution, ie Tabung Haji. So far, that is how I see it.
This latest article by the portal's Ku Seman, another Utusan Malaysia vet at BebasNews, might escalate the cyber war. Or, rather the piece's Utusan-ish headlines - Just abolish the haj subsidies ... - will. 
That is, I must add, if the article reflects what the new TH management is planing or hoping to be doing. And I don't think that is the direction the New will take, seeing how the government is still happily dishing out the handouts under BSH, petrol subsidies, etc.

Read the full Ku Seman article h e r e.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Post-Dark Period: A New NST in New Malaysia

KL, 20 Feb: If this were the dark days of the old NST under A. Kadir Jasin, I believe Transport Minister Anthony Loke would have been roasted for his press secretary's terrible faux pas. Even the old NST under Dollah Kok Lanas (RIP) would have eaten Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo for breakfast for even entertaining Loke and his press sec. Fortunately for them, the New NST is nowhere near as brutal as the Old. 
But credit where it's due. At the very least, the NST has the guts to stand up to the press secretary and defend its colleagues at RTM and the integrity of the media. It's a good start.

A tweet does not tell the whole story. Pls read full editorial below

NST Leader: It is what the press says 
IF we want vibrant journalism — and we believe that New Malaysia demands it — there must be a free press.
By vibrant journalism we mean initiating conversations on issues that affect the people. And if in the process of doing so we have to hold people in positions accountable, we must.
Attacks and threats on the press such as the one directed at Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) by the Transport Ministry would only turn serious reporting into sissy journalism. So will the demand for standard operating procedures (SOP) from the press.
We perfectly understand that press secretaries have key performance indicators that may compel them to get every piece of speech and media statement reported or televised. We understand, too, that not all press secretaries end up doing this, but some politicians may compel them so.
Let’s be very blunt: neither the minister nor the press secretary should compel the press to report an event. Because, that is as good as running the news business. And the government has no business running media entities.
To those who demand coverage, we pass on the words of the United States Supreme Court in the case of New York Times Co. v. United States: the press is there to serve the governed, not the governors.
The New Straits Times may have had a dark period in the past, but we are making a conscious effort to bring back vibrant journalism that our newspaper was known for once.
We are a newspaper that is 174 years old, and in that long history, we had a good stretch of vibrant journalism.
During our heyday, we decided what is and is not news. Now, we pledge to do this again. It must be said that our return to vibrant journalism coincided with the birth of New Malaysia.
Like all Malaysians, we at the New Straits Times rejoiced the birth of New Malaysia because we saw in it the promise of a free press. It will be a mistake to allow the promise to fade away.
The 21st-century readers are discerning ones who demand facts and analyses of matters that concern them. They need an outsider’s view. Or a critique, if you like. A free press makes this possible.
Because with free press, we can write without fear or favour. We can decide what is news and what is not. And how and when to gather it. We know a news item when we see one.
Those who are not in the business of news should not pretend to define it for us. We do, however, recognise freedom comes with responsibility.
News media entities — print and digital — must accept this responsibility.
As a first step in being responsible media entities, we must be transparent about who own us. We cannot say that we will report without fear or favour if we hide our shareholders behind a veil.
Responsibility requires a lifting of the veil. Only then our readers can judge if we are a fair press.
And in the interest of our readers, too, each media organisation must make public its Press Charter by which we pledge to adhere to the standards of a free and fair press.
Again, the readers will be the judge.
Freedom must perforce come with responsibility.  ENDS

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Sabotaging each other (updated: Wee tells Loke to sack aide)

Update 20/2: DAP persona non-grata Wee Choo Keong said Anthony Loke should kick out his press secretary over the RTM sabotage claim. In his tweet, the former MP blasted the PH Transport Minister for seemingly allowing his aide to smear the national broadcast station. "(If) complaint against RTM not  on (your) instruction, then sack your press secretary!" Wee said on Twitter.  Loke is unlikely to respond, given the history between Wee and his bosses the Lims.

KL, 19 Feb: You've read about the clown who accused RTM of trying to "sabotage" his Minister [read Anthony Loke's press sec throws a fit after his boss' speech not broadcast]  and then Loke himself actually defending the press secretary [Transport Minister defends aide in RTM row, defends part omission of "live" event]. 

I thought to myself, what a joke! On twitter, I expanded that thought a little more:
I'm not quite sure about Loke now. I thought he was more level headed than this. RTM, sabotage? Just because you didn't get the coverage you wanted?

YB Gobind Singh Deo, the Minister in charge of RTM, should have quashed the allegation immediately. He sounded a bit rattled by all the drama made out by his DAP colleague Loke and, to be fair, he doesn't fully understand how RTM works, yet. "... I've asked RTM to let me know, in particular, when there was a request for them to cover the event and what the terms and standard operating procedures were. I think these are the things I have to look at before I can comment on it".  [Gobind wants RTM to explain missing speech] 

It's actually quite simple, YBs. 
It's Media Relations 101 ...
In any event officiated by the Prime Minister, the PM will be given precedence by the media. Often, the event itself is relegated to a single column in the newspaper or a few pitiful seconds on the news. In the case of the "live" event that brought about this sabotage drama, it was officiated not just by the PM but also the DPM. And there was also the MB of Negri Sembilan to boot. Not to mention "several Cabinet Ministers". 
Imagine if RTM were to broadcast everyone's speeches and comments! Who's going to watch RTM?

Still not convinced?
Take a look at the pic used in the Gobind news article above. Bernama chose to focus on the PM, the DPM and the MB, No photograph of Loke. The caption also doesn't mention Loke or the other Cabinet Ministers. 
So is your press secretary going to accuse Bernama of trying to sabotage you, YB Loke? 

I hope YB Gobind will come to the defence of the editors and producers at RTM, Give the journalists leverage to do carry out their duties, without fear or favour, as this government has been espousing all the time.

It may be tempting to suggest again bringing in your own political appointee(s) in the name of ensuring there won't be any "sabotage" at RTM or Bernama in future, but that's going back to the old ways, Gobind, so please don't even think of it.

Your own colleague Latheefa Koya has tagged you:

Monday, February 11, 2019

The good news is ...

Puchong, 11 Feb: Good news is a rare commodity these days. Entertaining (not entertainment) news melambak - just read up on our politicians and their academic qualifications, Cabinet Minister's dumb statements, etc. No wonder the former ambassador Dennis Ignatius, in his twitter profile picture below, is slapping his forehead!

So when you get news like "Proton delivers 1000 units X70 in single day", we ought to feel good, right? And most of us do. I, supporter of Proton since the idea of the first national car was mooted, am happy that the company is selling cars - the X70 particularly - despite the inclement economic weather. 

Why the X70, in particular? Because it's Proton's first SUV, first car after it's association with China's Geely, and because a lot of people were so skeptical at first ...

Also because Perodua (the 2nd national car) has launched its (much cheaper) SUV and if you know the history of their rivalry then  you'd know that when the two national car companies collide, the same one has always ended up bruised and battered. So it's really, really nice to know that Perodua's Aruz is also doing quite well and that the two are not going to eat each other up this time (Toyota Aruz will cannibalise Toyota Rush's market share).

Not everyone is impressed, though. Former assemblyman Lee Hwa Beng may be one of them.

But I'm not slapping my forehead. As I see it, the YB is trying to be constructive in his own way. He's in effect raising a valid concern: are our local players ready to keep up with the higher benchmark set by the new Proton management? If the local players are not ready and, worse, if we continue to defend them (because they are Malaysians and they need more time and yet another chance, etc), quality will suffer and the national car's image will be dragged through mud again.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Anti-graft chief quashes talk of Petronas arrests

But he could have spoken sooner, couldn't he?

KL, Feb 9: So, the news that the anti-graft authority was going to arrest two Petronas execs over some alleged corrupt practices is NOT true. 
If Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission boss Mohd Shukri Abdull had not come out yesterday to clear the air (MACC denies portal's claim on impending arrests of Petronas officials), we would not have been the wiser. Question is, why didn't Shukri come out with the clarification earlier? Why did he have to wait for the media to prod and after Petronas had made the police report against the news portal? 
The truth is, it's so easy these days to use the MACC's name in vain. I'm sure Shukri is aware of this. And I'm sure he'd agree that the onus is on the MACC to deter and discourage this blatant abuse. This is where his Comms Department may want to be more proactive. For example, if a newspaper or a blog claims that the MACC is investigating a person or a corporation for alleged corruption, the Comms Dept must come out immediately to confirm or deny the news. No need to wait for reporters to follow up. Because the longer they wait, the greater the damage.  
In the case of Petronas, it helped that the national oil corporation had decided to go to the police right away. That gave us the impression that it had nothing to hide. But if everyone has to go to the police each time something bad is written about them, the police won't have time for anything else. 
So, Tok Shukri, the next time someone invokes the name of your good organisation, please do everyone - especially yourself - a favour and come out immediately with a response. Jangan tunggu lama-lama. Managing public perception is as important as battling corruption itself. 

Sunday, February 03, 2019

"Sila duduk jangan lari, Gong Xi Fa Cai sudah mari"

Here's wishing you my Dear Readers a Happy Chinese New Year.May the Year of the Pig bring all of us health, happiness and prosperity.

p.s. Thanks Bad and friends, your festive videos remain our all-time, each time and anytime favourites. Gong Xi Fa Cai!