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Election 2022: Biased TV news segment stokes racial sentiments

The media must enlighten the people about the political agenda of the various parties instead of stirring inter-racial suspicions

Our cultural diversity is an asset - DR WONG SOAK KOON/ALIRAN

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The racial bias shown in its Berita 7:57 bulletin – which irked many Malaysians – smakes you wonder whether Awesome TV is aware that it has crossed a line.

Anyone deeply affected by the racist editorial stance has a right to call the news channel out.

This is because it has encouraged Malays to come out in full force to vote to prevent ethnic minorities from supposedly taking power.

Such a narrative clearly contrasts with one that would focus on encouraging eligible voters, irrespective of ethnic or religious backgrounds, to exercise their democratic right to vote.

On 3 November, the TV channel’s two news anchors brashly called on Malay voters to fulfil their duty to prevent the rise of non-Malay politicians. “All Malay voters must vote to fulfil their civic duty if they don’t want political power to be controlled by other races… (such as) if Pakatan Harapan (PH) were to win,” one of them said. “If Malays don’t vote, politicians who should not hold power will come into power and marginalise Malay rights.”

This editorial slant is not only offensive to the ethnic minorities but also divisive as it has the effect of driving a wedge between ethnic communities that form part of the collective called “keluarga Malaysia” (Malaysian family), as envisaged by caretaker Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

To cut to the chase, the ethnic minorities have been made out to be a large group that has dark designs against the ethnic Malays, which could reinforce the siege mentality that has been haunting some Malays over the years.

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To be sure, we are talking about contemporary Malaysia after more than 60 years of political independence, where inter-racial suspicion lurks.

The news anchors were also unethical and unfair towards Pakatan Harapan because the coalition was characterised as having elements who would jeopardise the interests of the Malay community if it came to power again.

It would appear that the news channel has promoted a political narrative that runs parallel to those pedalled by certain politicians and political parties: the mantra of race and religion, part of their old playbook.

For the uninitiated, the news channel that has courted the controversy is, according to a Harian Metro report, managed by seasoned professionals, that is, chief operations officer Mazlan Mahdi and 757 News chief editor Yushaimi Yahaya.

Mazlan has more than 20 years of working experience in the area of broadcasting, where he was involved in the development, implementation and operation of digital TV infrastructure.

Yushaimi has 30 years of experience in the country’s media industry, particularly in journalism, where he was the chief operations officer of the New Straits Times Press, former chief editor of the Malay Mail, and advisor to the Redberry Media Group.

It is feared that as we approach the polls, there are certain elements in the political arena who might be tempted to exploit this kind of dangerous narrative for their own political gain.

Given the seriousness of this issue, it is imperative that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission nip it in the bud.

The media have an important role to play in enlightening the electorate about the political agenda of the competing parties pertaining to such important issues as the economy, costs of living, health, education and the environment.

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Creating suspicions between ethnic communities is certainly not its role. – The Malaysian Insight

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Dr Mustafa K Anuar, a longtime executive committee member and former honorary secretary of Aliran, is, co-editor of our newsletter. He obtained his PhD from City, University of London and is particularly interested in press freedom and freedom of expression issues. These days, he is a a senior journalist with an online media portal
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