It is already the end of May. The Kamarul-Hannah debacle, involving a UUM academician and known Christian evangelist Hannah Yeoh, started in the middle of the month when Yeoh lodged a police report against Kamarul for… what was it again?
Oh yes, Kamarul’s Facebook post, which “bersifat prasangka jahat dan jelas berniat untuk menyebarkan kebencian terhadap diri saya (i.e. Hannah Yeoh), pemimpin-pemimpin DAP yang dinamakan dalam kenyataan tersebut dan parti DAP,” (“smacks of prejudice and is clearly intended to spread hatred against me (i.e. Hannah Yeoh), DAP leaders named in the post and DAP as a party”)
She also stated that Kamarul’s post “menimbulkan risiko tinggi terhadap keselamatan diri [dia] dan ahli-ahli DAP,” (“poses a high risk to [her] safety and that of other DAP members”)
Naturally, Kamarul denied this in his own counter report. Then the whole debacle started. Let’s review how it played out on the pages (or should I say, the websites) of our news portals.
A new low for Malaysian journalism
The DAP owned and operated media, MalaysiaKini, Free Malaysia Today, The Malay Mail Online and The Malaysian Insight (aka The Malaysian Insider) have all united in defence of Hannah Yeoh, spawning article after article in her defence and in condemnation of Kamarul. As I highlighted in a previous blog post, over 30 people who were either DAP members or otherwise connected with the party in some manner all churned out their own statements and “analyses” against the man.
That does not also include the countless comments by hysterical Dapsters, some compiled by MalaysiaKini but most existing in that portal’s own comments section of its articles, such as this one.
The talking points seem to be on Dr Kamarul’s own faith in his own religion, Islam allegedly shaken by Hannah’s book, Becoming Hannah, although his initial post was about the hypocrisy of DAP, a supposedly avowedly secular party, having Hannah, who says in her book she wanted to become a Christian preacher and admits that politics enables her to preach her faith more widely, as its representative. There is virtually no discussion on Hannah’s initial report against Kamarul or how it supposibly threatens the safety of her and other DAP members.
Meanwhile, framing of the narrative by the portals has reached a new low, even when taking into account their well known alignment with DAP and Pakatan Harapan. Take this Malaysian Insight article published today, Kamarul takes another swipe at DAP.
The portal used terms unbecoming for a news outlet, whose duty is to report facts, and not make intepretations thereon. Intepretation is a matter solely left for a reader to decide. Loaded judgments such as “twisting facts”, “using rhetorical arguments” and “linking personal beliefs” and “erroneous examples” betray a lack of journalistic objectivity.
There is also no citation of at least one example of “Umno’s allegations” on DAP. Worse, the portal claims that Anthony Loke and Tony Pua are not Christians based on a cavalier “check” without citing any source.
Sounds like Dapster party propaganda to me. Is this supposed to be a DAP party newsletter or a proper news portal?
Now, a simple check around social media, particularly Twitter, reveals that both Loke and Pua are in fact Christian. So TMI gets caught with its pants down, again! Go figure.
Bloody liars, these DAP lot, aren’t they?
What about BN media, then?
Earlier, I wrote that only 3 people have written articles in defence of Kamarul. Since then, a reader has written to me, pointing out that a statement was made by 6 NGOs, the Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (CENTHRA), Concerned Lawyers for Justice (CLJ), the Malaysian Lawyers Circle (MLC), PPMM (Muslim Lawyers Association), iPeguam (ISMA’s law wing) and Young Professionals (YP). Nonetheless the coverage for Kamarul’s side of the story remains miniscule.
So far, the only press that has come forward to defend Kamarul (you know, besides Harakah, Ismaweb.net and the usual Islam-based parties) is Tanjak, an obscure portal that would seem to have recently been started.
But from my analysis of Tanjak , article nothing therein would suggest that they have pro-Umno or pro-BN tendencies in particular, at least overtly, although they are definately anti-DAP from what I have found. They even have two articles bashing the MCA, Malay votes that Umno will lose because of MCA and MCA’s guerrilla war against Umno, although the party is a member of the ruling coalition.
News portal menara.my has also given Kamarul very limited, mostly BM coverage, though.
Pro-BN news portals that I can find (and readers are welcome to point them out if there are more) would be Raja Petra Kamaruddin’s Malaysia Today as well as Malaysia Outlook. Set up by the Centre for the Right to Good Governance, Outlook seem like a government outfit in and of itself, at least thats the impression I get scrolling its articles, which seem to be mostly an attempt at promoting what the government does.
Apart from the press statement made by the 6 NGOs above, and another article on Christian Zionism, RPK has for sure kept clear of anything to do with the Kamarul-Hannah controversy. One wonders why, considering the amount of attention it got.
Outlook too, has virtually zero to say on Kamarul Zaman Yusoff and Hannah Yeoh.
Is BN simply not interested in articulating for Kamarul? Given allegations in DAP media that he is an BN and Umno agent, wouldn’t Umno or BN at least have something to say about that? Why this deafening silence?
Or is Kamarul considered a PAS issue? Even so, they should at least say something. Their silence is disconcerting indeed.
Biased news coverage a concern
Granted, in a democracy, news outlets are generally free to be at least a bit partisan if they can’t be truly objective. In the UK for instance, The Telegraph is known for being right wing and pro-Conservative, while The Guardian is left wing and generally pro-Labour.
But at least these biases are admitted by the news outlets themselves. Even then, everyone expects at least one totally neutral reliable news source for the facts, and that role is usually supplied by the BBC.
But in Malaysia, news portals such as MalaysiaKini, The Malay Mail Online, The Malaysian Insight and Free Malaysia Today pretend to be independent, but actually carry the DAP agenda. This is worrying indeed.
Even BN owned and operated media don’t play a proper role of checking, or at least correcting, the reporting of these portals, thus emboldening them into all sorts of spin, even telling outright lies, and getting away with it.
The situation could not be made clearer by how the Kamarul-Hannah controversy has played out. But who has taken notice, and more importantly, what is being done about this? That is the question.