MKLetters: Another blow to PM, media independence
LETTERS: Another blow to PM, media independence
Dr Lim Teck Ghee | Apr 27, 10 3:51pm
On April 22, senior producer Joshua Wong Ngee Choong announced his
resignation from ntv7. He said he did so because of complaints from the
Prime Minister's Department and prime minister's wife Rosmah Mansor in
reaction to two recent Chinese talk show programmes focusing on current
According to Wong, the company Natseven TV Sdn Bhd has now set restrictions
for the 'offensive' show 'Editor's Time' which 'are not justifiable,
threaten(s) the independence of my job as producer.is also a form of
self-censorship, (and). is against the principle of fair and independent
reporting. These restrictions have seriously affected the professionalism of
the [production] team'.
Besides implicating various senior staff of the television station for
pressuring him to engage in self-censorship aimed at pleasing the BN and
Umno leadership, Wong disclosed that he had learnt that 'the First Lady
(Rosmah) complained about . Penang roadshow (held on April 8) - all the way
from Washington' and that he 'later found that the First Lady had received
complaints from other people, and she re-directed the complaint to the top
As for the role played by the Prime Minister's Department, below is the SMS
complaint that Wong states was conveyed by the PM's department. Centre for
Policy Initiatives (CPI) translation (for original, see footnote). Extracts:
'They (the ntv7 programme, its panelists and studio audience) mock the KPI
and BN's position. Mock '1Malaysia'. Challenge PM to comprehensively revamp
BTN. Question the action of Dato Nasir Safar when Dato Nasir has
courageously resigned (as Najib Razak's aide).
.What is very dangerous, they demand the freedom of speech, right from the
start of the debate session just now. Meaning, no investigation is required
to be made, the way they talk and they allow the audience to ask questions
(gives the impression) as if our government is so bad.
What more do these Chinese want, they are (already) richer than the Malays.
I suggest that we wage war on these Chinese. [Appeal] to Malay
Parliamentarians, Umno/Supreme Council and all Umno leaders, wake up . they
are increasingly biadab/ill-mannered'.
Natseven TV belongs to Media Prima, the country's most powerful media
conglomerate that similarly owns 100 percent equity interest in TV3, 8TV and
TV9. It also owns 90% of the News Straits Times Press.
Sitting on Media Prima's board of directors are, among others, former Utusan
Malaysia editor- in-chief Johan Jaafar, former NST group editor Ahmad A
Talib and prominent businesspeople some of whom are associated with Umno.
Media Prima's largest shareholder is Gabungan Kasturi, reportedly owned by
Amanah Raya - a trust management company belonging wholly to the Malaysian
government holding the shares through the Minister of Finance
Media Prima's main minority shareholder is the Employees Provident Fund
(note: EPF's investment panel is headed by former chief secretary to the
government Samsudin Osman). The role of ntv7 in this scheme of things is
that the free-to-air station positions itself as the 'Home of Feel Good -
Malaysia's Favourite Chinese and Urban Station'; in other words, it is
targeted mainly at a Chinese and urban demographic.
In giving the reasons for his resignation, Wong alleges that Sofwan Mahmood
(whom the Media Prima corporate directory lists as ntv7 deputy
editor-in-chief, news) '...said that it is not advisable to talk about (the
Hulu Selangor by-election) as.the show will embarrass Najib's administration
Wong also alleges that his superior Tan Boon Kooi had informed him of the
'advice' given by Media Prima group editor (News and Current Affairs) Manja
Ismail that opposition MP Tony Pua should not be invited as guest speaker
(note: Manja was the Berita Harian group editor from April 2006).
From the above, it can be seen that all terrestrial television, although
ostensibly private stations, have indirect links to either Umno or the
Umno-controlled federal government, and that their key decision-makers are
the Media Prima bigwigs who have a career history in corporate entities that
are strongly pro-Umno.
Questions for the prime minister. These are our questions for Najib.
1. Wong has made a serious allegation that the complaint against his
programme was conveyed by Rosmah. Najib's high-profile wife holds no public
office but is playing a partisan political role surpassing that of any other
spouse of previous prime ministers. Najib should clarify whether Rosmah or
her staff issued the cease-and-desist order to Media Prima and ntv7.
2. Is Najib aware that the instructions to Wong purportedly came from his PM
's Department? These instructions to 'Editor's Time' were, in effect, to
gloss over or blackout coverage of political developments in Hulu Selangor
that are unfavourable to the ruling party.
If the allegation is false, then Najib quickly should reassure the public
that the government is not pulling the strings on what news and views are
fit for public consumption.
3. Apart from this specific case of blatant intimidation and attempted
censorship of a supposedly private television station, TV1 and TV2 are
state-controlled television stations with no autonomy either to exercise
free and fair reporting.
Can the prime minister clarify whether there is a direct chain of command
from his office and his officers giving directives to the civil servants
heading these national broadcasters? We note that RTM director-general
Ibrahim Yahaya was former Berita Harian editor-in-chief and TV3 broadcasting
Wong's resignation should not be treated as another run-of-the-mill case of
a middle- management media practitioner coming up against the stone wall of
political masters and media owners dictating content.
Instead, his resignation puts the spotlight on how corrupt the stifled
system has become. How can a current affairs programme be barred by ntv7
from discussing the Hulu Selangor by-election just because Umno wants to
exercise damage control and only permit views that portray the party, its
leadership and its governance in a rosy light?
More pertinently, Wong asks 'How can we continue to keep silent, to tolerate
and allow these [abuses of power] to happen again and again?' Other
Malaysians are asking the same questions.
The BN has maintained its stranglehold on power because the mainstream
mediam (MSM) has colluded to keep it in power.
From Wong's superior Tan Boon Kooi to Lee Lam Thye who sits in Media Prima's
board of directors to the handsomely paid hacks in the print media, the
professional disinformation industry has aided and abetted in propping up
Slanting information and depriving audiences of alternative views while at
the same time setting a biased agenda and story angle is tantamount to
brainwashing the masses. Wong is to be applauded for his principled
resignation. We are glad that his break with the cartel has allowed the
dirty racket that has been operating in the mainstream media for so long to
now be revealed.
We must build on this revelation of the mainstream media's inner workings to
ensure that government control over what Malaysians can view and read is
truly breached so that the electorate is no longer kept in the dark.
Footnote: Mereka memperlekehkan KPI dan polisi BN. Memperlekehkan
'1Malaysia'. Mencabar PM agar rombak besar-besaran BTN. Mempertikaikan
tindakan Dato Nasir Safar sedangkan Dato Nasir telah berani meletakkan
[Nga] Kor Ming dengan bangganya membangkitkan isu pemberian tanah kepada
orang ramai di Perak. Wee Ka Siong gagal pertahankan isu MCA apa lagi nak
pertahankan polisi Umno dan BN. Ketua Pemuda MCA set markah 75 kepada PM
dalam usaha KPI. Ada usul telus FDI dengan kurangkan kos operasi.
Ada usul penilaian KPI oleh rakyat ketua jabatan sahaja. Yang sangat bahaya,
dia orang minta kebebasan bersuara bermula dengan sesi debat tadi. Makna
tiada siasatan perlu dibuat, cara mereka bercakap dan membiarkan penonton
bertanya soalan seolah-olah kerajaan kita ini terlalu teruk.
Apa lagi cina-cina nie nak, mereka lagi kaya dari Melayu. Saya cadang kita
perang jer dengan cina-cina nie... Melaru kepada semua ahli-ahli parlimen
Melayu/Umno/MT dan semua pemimpin Umno, wake up... mereka semakin biadap.
The writer is director, Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI).
Please support Malaysiakini by subscribing for as
low as RM20 per month to RM150 per year. Details at:
Another TV producer claims political meddling
Apr 28, 10 3:44pm
Another television producer - this time from RTM's TV2 - has claimed
political interference in his work after his documentary on the Bakun Dam
was taken off the air allegedly due to Barisan Nasional concerns over it
chances in the upcoming Sibu by-election.
In a blog post today, the producer of the documentary, Chou Z Lam (left),
revealed that the show was taken off the air under the direct instruction of
RTM's chief broadcast executive Ibrahim Yahya.
"RTM's newsroom chief executive Jumat Engson said the documentary was taken
off the air because it had sensitive elements that could be harmful (for BN)
in the upcoming Sibu by-election as well as the Sarawak state elections,"
read the blog post.
Chou was instead told that the documentary would be postponed to 'a more
Chou's allegation comes barely a week after award-winning journalist and
producer Joshua Wong quit his position in ntv7 following what he said was
constant political interference in his show, the last straw being a ban on
discussing the recent Hulu Selangor by-election.
Chou's nine-part documentary was for a RTM2 programme entitled "Galeri
Mandarin Nasional" and was supposed to have run from last Monday to May 7 in
the 12.20pm to 12.30pm slot. The first two episodes have been aired.
'People first' or 'politics first'?
However, the following episode, to have been aired today, was taken off the
air. It focussed on the social impact of the building of the Bakun Dam on
the natives of Belaga who were forced to be relocated to Sungai Asap and
Sungai Koyan in 1998.
"This is another news interference by the government during and after the
Hulu Selangor by-election," Chou said on his blog.
"I feel deeply sorry for the people of Sungai Asap whom I had interviewed,
as their problems and voices are being prevented from being heard by the
majority of the people both in East and West Malaysia," he added.
Chou said that the move was totally against Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak
's '1Malaysia' slogan of 'People first'.
"If the Sibu by-election and the Sarawak state election are reasons for the
show to be taken off the air, then what RTM is implementing is actually
'politics first'", he said.
'No such orders'
Chou said he had sought the help of deputy information, unity, culture and
arts minister Heng Sai Kee to reverse the RTM directive but was told that
the ministry would not interfere in RTM affairs.
Chou through his blog appealed to Ibrahim to reconsider his decision for the
sake of RTM's credibility and the natives of Sarawak.
When contacted, Ibrahim denied that he had ordered the documentary to be
taken off the air.
"I did not give such orders [...] you should ask Chou instead," said
Joshua Wong caper marks a nadir
Terence Netto | Apr 28, 10 9:32am
For perspective the brouhaha over producer Joshua Wong's resignation from
NTV7 over alleged interference - from the Prime Minister's Department no
less - must be seen against the history of politically-aligned ownership of
privately-owned media outlets.
This history would mock the pretensions of some solid practitioners of the
craft of journalism who in the early 1970s felt that they could weather the
threat of undue interference raised in the wake of government-owned
companies buying equity in privately owned newspapers.
The avenue for government interference was paved in the early 1970s when
Umno Youth clamored for the 'Malaysianisation' of the 'Straits Times', then
the largest selling English newspaper in the country, owned by AC Simmons
who resided in Singapore.
This 'Malaysianisastion', which turned out to be essentially 'Malay-isation'
, was justified under the mantle of the New Economic Policy, one of whose
aims was to equip a Malay managerial class with the skills to run companies
whose majority stake had been purchased by government-linked companies
(GLCs, a term not yet in vogue in the early 1970s).
The Berita Malaysia / bmalaysia mailing lists
Read postings, subscribe/unsubscribe or change settings at: