To every man alive, one must hope, it has in some manner happened that he has talked with his more fascinating friends round a table on some night when all the numerous personalities unfolded themselves like great tropical flowers.- G.K. Chesterton
A fervent believer in life-long learning, this scribe enjoys an occasional dineer with mGf from out-station (more so whene another local mGf pays the bill!). Yes, the food served might satisfy growling stomachs, but the real spice is the company -- the conversation that flows from the sharing of experience. Young, older and old-getting-younger-by-the-year, each participant will have some unique story to tell. And shAre.
So the opening quote reminds Desi of last Friday's dinner when mGf Yan and her editor-colleague Mr Rajah travlled all the way from Sibu to pow-wOw! with a B-TeAm from klsetracker.com, I would like to think it was close enough to Chesterton's desiderata of fascinating dinner companions and their unfolding -- like flowers in a tropical storm -- personalities of recently met, yet it seems like olde times, friends.
Given a choice, I would have liked to work in a news room once more. People in the various newspapers have to answer to differing demands and tasks -- and the working environments can range from a picnic in the park to a miliatry reegime.
Some reporters --- in the established national papers -- are so bloody lucky they get away with dcovering just one news assignment a day, and my guesstimate is the journalist's real productive time spent on the job is just three to four hours a day.
The diligent and initiative ones will, without prompting from superiors, work on "exclusives" instead of marking time from 9-to-5, and these are the ones who will progress and shine. Journalism is in their blood.
Pity the poor cousins at a regional daily when the reporter has to run from one beat to another, tackling maybe nothing less than three assignments, and likely getting less remuneration (big word meaning pay or salary!) But big pay does not mean "satisfaction" on the job. It's only meaningful if the purusuer has commitment to his profession, is able to deliver on the promise of carrying out his/her duties accordinging to society's rules of conduct and ethics, and the responsibility that comes with the media's calling.
I read with great sympathy about the two China Press Editors who had "to resign" from their top positions after "taking responsibility" for the alleged "glaring mistake" in the identification of the ear-squat woman in the video clip as a "Chinese" -- later revealed at an inquiry to be a Malay. I am also angry because the media fraternity did not show much solidarity or "camaraderie" with the two media mates by inititiating some form of protest -- because clearly the price they paid for, IMHO, a minor "misdeed" was blatantly overly heavy.
But often it is times like this which reveal for the public the state of affairs in Malaysian media. It is not a happy or positive one.
Here I would seek your indulgence recalling a relatively "old" news item, in tandem with the definition that in Journalism, Today's news is tomorrow's history ...
MALAYSIA: Doubts linger over nude squat video
Some still don't believe woman in China Press report is Malay due to distrust of the authorities
The Straits Times
Wednesday, January 4, 2006
By Carolyn Hong
Kuala Lumpur -- Opposition MP Teresa Kok was one of the few Malaysians who had a clear look at the face of the Malay woman who identified herself as the detainee taped doing nude squats in police custody.
'I saw her face clearly. Her eyes and other features were exactly as I saw on the video clip, and I am sure she is Malay from the way she spoke,' she said.
Ms Kok was convinced that the Malay woman was telling the truth and that the media had got it wrong when it earlier reported that the detainee was a Chinese national.
But to her surprise, not all Malaysians saw it the same way. Some sceptical ones refused to believe that the newspapers made a mistake. They insisted that it was a cover-up.
And this was after the independent panel investigating the video clip recalled the Malay woman specifically to be identified by people like Ms Kok and representatives of the Bar Council.
At her first appearance, the woman had kept her face covered and only showed it to the five panel members, immediately sparking rumours of a cover-up.
The panel, which is due to issue its report on Jan 15, was set up to investigate the video clip after it sparked outrage when it became public in November. It was shot secretly in June on a mobile phone by a policeman in a lock-up.
Given the prevailing scepticism, Ms Kok said the Internal Security Ministry was making things worse by going after the Chinese-language China Press newspaper for identifying the woman as a Chinese national.
'It seems to be on a hunt for a scapegoat, either me or China Press,' she said.
The New Straits Times reported that the Internal Security Ministry has asked China Press to explain its mistake, and warned that its night edition could be suspended for a certain period.
Ms Kok said she is still being asked by voters from her Kuala Lumpur constituency and friends whether the woman was truly a Malay.
'They even ask if police had found a Malay woman who looks like her. When I explain to them that I am convinced...I can see that they don't quite agree with me,' she said.
This is also the experience of lawyer S.N. Nair, who had represented four Chinese women who were made to do nude squats in a separate incident in November last year. It was initially believed that the woman in the video clip could be one of them.
Mr Nair said he, too, was being asked whether there was a cover-up.
'I have told them that the Malay woman is really the one in the video but I would say that it is 50-50 on how far people accept this,' he said.
Some have blamed this on excessive cynicism. But to him, it reflects the low confidence in the police force.
He said the police had fed the people's suspicion by failing to correct the mistake for a good three weeks even after news reports had triggered a protest from China.
'The press has to be accountable, but in this case, the government also failed to handle it well.
'The newspaper was merely doing its duty, and any action other than a reprimand will be a setback to the principle of press freedom,' he said.
Date Posted: 1/4/2006
DESIDERATA has highlighted the two points which the Government under Pak Lah must take heed of. There is a "crisis of confidence" among the populace in the Royal Malaysian Police. If this trend is allowed to deteriorate, the Prime Minister would find in an insurmountable task to recover whatever little goodwill that is left from the post-GE 2004 "feel good" factor sweeping the electorate that installed Pak Lah with a record 90% command of parlaimentary seats in the 219-seat august House. And time in my mind is running out pretty fast.
The Fourth Estate in Malaysia is the weakest among the four branches of government -- with the Executive wielding pre-dominance over the others, supported in the main by a "yes-Minister" Legislature (as the Opposition is awkwardly diminished in numbers in both Parliament and all but one of the State Assemblies), and an emasculated Judiciary, the latter being brought to its knees over the past two decades to a level alongside the Media so that they could not play meaningful roles and discharge the minimum duties expected of them.
Under Pak Lah's prime ministership the past two years plus, there is some glimmer of hope the last two estates may be given some new lease of life. Except the esteemed PM must get rid of the encumbrances in the way of ministers and deputy ministers and some enforcers who rule by decree and not be law.
Ending with something positive and encouraging:
The Star, January 11, 2006 frontpage (added on Wednesday morn) after completing the preceding lust night...)~~~~~~~
PM: There must be no
confusion over religious matters
KEPALA BATAS: Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has made it clear that matters concerning religious conversion needed to be spelt out plainly in the Federal Constitution and other laws to prevent confusion among Malaysians.
"Many feel it is necessary to clarify the question in the laws and Constitution to avoid further confusion," the Prime Minister told reporters after performing Zohor prayers in conjunction with Hari Raya Aidiladha at Masjid Kubang Merenung here yesterday.
“We must all be united, tolerant and respectful of each other’s religion without causing disharmony among ourselves.”
“In whatever legal action that we initiate, we must also ensure that justice is served to all,” he said.
He stressed on the right of Malaysians to follow the religion of their choice and said that this must be respected.
“The country has both Muslims and non-Muslims. We must respect each other’s religion and practices. And we must acknowledge that each religion has its own rights,” he said when asked to comment on the controversy that arose following the Dec 20 death of Mount Everest climber Sjn M. Moorthy.
His widow and the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council got into a legal tussle when it was discovered that he had converted to Islam the previous year. Moorthy was eventually buried according to Muslim rites.
On Dec 28, the High Court ruled that it would not disturb the declaration that Moorthy was a Muslim because the matter was under the purview of the Syariah Court system.
A coalition of 35 Hindu non-governmental organisations sent a petition last week to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong seeking to restore public confidence in the judicial system following the controversial case.
May Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi be carried by the wings of Angels and a legion of God-fearing Malaysians wearing the colours of Love for Country, Justice and Honour. May he always be advised by counsellers of the calibre envisaged at Chesterton's dinner table.
Inspired and penned on a holyday
Tuesday January 10, in the GOoD Year
of Twenty Oh Six