This afternoon I suffered "mental" exhaustion, so work-related writing was thrown out of the window after normal lunch. From 3pm to 6pm I enjoyed the kluxury of surfing the Net.
After resuming official work from 6pm, I slogged till 7.00pm, then went back to surfing.
Georgiana was not, but Catsville was on my mind.
Meanwhile, I visited Bernama for the latest news concerning the poor Sarawak paper with some 300 workers on tenderhooks...(kyels, check spellin please...) but no update yet from the national news agency, where they "professionally" trained me as a journalist. I steal don't know what assessment they rated me though .. but I can second-guess...Minat maaf jika brudder ini selalu "digress" -- salahsatu Blogger's delusionary luxuries-lah...
The following I deem as "important" to record in full, thanks to the nst online:
Sarawak Tribune's fate may be known today
PUTRAJAYA, Feb 7:
The reprinting of offensive caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in the Sarawak Tribune was the act of one person who has resigned, and further action against the newspaper will be decided by the Prime Minister.
Three of the daily’s top managers were summoned to the Internal Security Ministry this afternoon, where they met Deputy Minister Datuk Noh Omar for two hours.
The three were the paper’s editorial adviser, Senator Datuk Idris Buang, who is also chief political secretary to Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, Group Editor Toman Mamora, and Executive Editor Polit Hamzah.
They submitted a written reply to a show-cause letter from the ministry and explained the incident to Noh.
Noh declined to comment on the newspaper’s explanation and said he would present their written reply and a report on the discussion for Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s consideration.
It is learnt that Abdullah is likely to raise the matter at the Cabinet meeting tomorrow before announcing his decision on the paper.
The possible courses of action under the Printing Presses and Publications Act are an admonition, a warning, temporary suspension of the daily’s permit, or a revocation of the permit. The daily has over 300 staff.
Speaking to reporters later, Idris refuted calls for more of the paper’s editors to take responsibility by resigning.
He said the blame rested solely on Lester Melanyi, the night editor in charge of the Saturday edition that carried the caricatures.
According to Idris, Melanyi apparently had not regarded reprinting the caricatures as a sensitive matter as the accompanying captions were in a foreign language and could not be understood.
Idris said the daily would abide by Abdullah’s decision and thanked Noh and Internal Security officials for being professional and objective in handling the case.
Excerpts from Idris’ Press conference:
Q: Was it a careless mistake, a breach of editorial procedures?
A: He slipped it in, he beat the system. He more or less "curi-lah" (stole the opportunity). He inserted it right before the crucial time, right before printing. Nobody had the chance to stop it.
Q: Was it intentional?
A: It was intentional on his part, as he said in his own words, he did not see the sensitivity because the accompanying remarks to the caricatures were not readable, but that he wanted to support the story which was from Islamabad (foreign news wires).
Q: How could it be so easy for him to do that?
A: We have a system where everybody (other editors) has to check. There were nine editorial staff below him, of whom eight were Muslims, but none of them got a chance to see that page.
Q: Was there a bad motive on his part?
A: I don’t have the power to interrogate him on that. It’s also very dangerous to speculate. But I feel upset, just like other Muslims. I am also a Muslim.
Q: What about calls by Umno Youth that the group editor and other top management should resign?
A: If one person is guilty, should the rest be punished along with him? Umno Youth has its own stand, but more importantly, the truth must prevail. Our internal inquiry focused on only one person. It’s a straightforward case, there were no accomplices. Melanyi has apologised and we wanted to sack him, but he said he would resign immediately. We accepted.
Q: What do you anticipate the Government’s action to be?
A: I believe the Government is very sympathetic to the Sarawak Tribune. I believe the Government will be very fair. This is also a test for Muslims here ... to show the world that we are civilised and that we can have mutual respect. We will wait and accept whatever the Government’s decision is.
Meanwhile, Umno Youth International Bureau deputy head Datuk Sazmi Miah filed a police report at the Putrajaya police station this afternoon against the Sarawak Tribune, charging the paper with having a "hidden agenda".
A protest note over the daily’s action was also sent to Noh by student group Gabungan Mahasiswa Islam Se-Malaysia (GAMIS).
DESIDERATA: The bolded highlight is mine, mine alone, not the nst's, not Blooger.com's, it's Desi's, Desi's alone.
Ex-editor disputes newspaper’s statement
KUCHING, Feb 7: Did Sarawak Tribune night editor Lester Melanyi resign on his own accord or is he being made a scapegoat?
Melanyi has been in the eye of the storm of the controversy over the reprinting of the controversial caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in the newspaper last Saturday.
While initial reports said Melanyi resigned, the ex-editor sang a different tune today, accusing those in charge of the newspaper of making him a scapegoat.
It is reliably understood that Melanyi did not resign from his post but was asked to leave with the promise of continued remuneration.
In a turn of events today, Melanyi also disputed claims that he had been solely responsible for the fiasco.
"I did the page but it was then submitted to (his superior) for clearance," Melanyi told the New Straits Times, refuting allegations levelled against him.
The daily had reprinted the caricatures on page 12 of its Saturday publication, with an AFP news article from Islamabad headlined, "Cartoon not much impact here".
The same page also carried a picture of two pigs.
When asked to comment on this latest development, Melanyi’s superior told the NST: "No, I did not clear the page. I did not even see it. I didn’t know anything about it, what he (Melanyi) says now is not true."
Below are excerpts of Melanyi’s answers to questions posed today:
Q: It was said that you sent the page (Page 12) at the last minute before the paper went to print.
A: How could I? If every subordinate does that, the world would be in chaos. This (the allegation that the page was sent in for print at the last minute) is something I cannot tolerate. I can tolerate the two notices, but not this one. It looks like I’m being made the fall guy.
(In the notices put up by the Sarawak Tribune yesterday and today, Sarawak Press Sdn Bhd and Editorial Committee stated that the editor-on-duty extracted the cartoons from foreign media without authorisation, and he admitted it.)
Q: So who cleared the page 12 for the Saturday publication?
A: My superior.
Q: Who was the superior? (Melanyi identified him to NST.)
A: Yes. You see, I told this to the Special Branch yesterday. I cannot be telling different things to the police.
Q: You also spoke to an online news reporter (Malaysiakini) about the superior clearing the page?
A: Yes, I did.
Q: We contacted (Melanyi’s superior) just now and he said what you’re saying is not true.
A: Oh, my God, how could he say that?
Q: Can you tell me how you work? Do you make a print-out of every page?
A: Yes, we make a print of all the pages. The editor will look at all the pages.
Q: Does the superior sign off every page?
Q: So there is no proof that he actually looked at all the pages?
A: Every page has to be seen by the editor (before it goes to print).
DESIDERATA: I sympathise with Melanyi's situation, and can empathise with his fate. I believe him more than I believe others' accounts -- because I had experienced closing Business desk's pages at a mainstream newspaper before.
"Inserting" an item at the last minute?
Borrowing LKY's famous/infamous phtrase again: MY FOOT!
I'm pretty "tired" -- of many things -- so I won't add any more commentary but say that a Night Editor's job is never easy; nay, it's dangerous even when you have superiors or bosses who play politics more than their remote liking or understanding of journalism. I have tasted similar fragrance in not exactly comparable circumstances -- but you know that when a "crisis" developed, such superior/s would find a scapegoat beneath them.
I'll say a prayer tonight for Melanyi, and the staff of Sarawak Tribune.
Especially when UMNO Youth cries for someone else's blood.
7.56PM, Feb 8, 2006
Three times 24 Hours before Happy Hours, Saturday Nite,
Dining next to Crocidiles...:) OR :(