Now this is something that some people will find trivial but I see it as a a danger that will jeopardise the reputation of online portals in Malaysia.
Back in February, Siti Nurhaliza launched her first talk show which featured Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as her first VIP guest.
During the Q & A session with the audience, Tun Mahathir was asked on what would he do if he was given the chance to become the prime minister once again.
From what I heard, Tun said that his priority would be to see Malaysia become a developed nation and that he would like to balance the disparity between races.
But the very next day, Malaysian Insider published an article with the heading:
If PM again, Dr M would prioritise racial equalityBy Clara ChooiFebruary 12, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 12 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad placed racial equality as top on his list of priorities to develop the country if he were given a second shot at running the country as prime minister.
Dr Mahathir told songstress Datuk Siti Nurhaliza on the first episode of the latter’s new TV talk show “Siti” on Astro Ria tonight that despite having relinquished his job for over seven years now, he still had “many ideas” on how to improve development in Malaysia.
“I have many ideas that can help to develop the country, especially to achieve racial unity.
“But these plans can only be carried out by those in power… because I am not in power, all I can do is try to influence the present leaders,” he said.
The outspoken octogenarian explained that now that he was no longer in government, his only avenue to affect changes in the country was by speaking with present government leaders and writing in his blog chedet.co.cc.
“My wish if I were to be PM of this country again, which is unlikely, is to ensure that Malaysia achieves its objective to achieve developed nation status,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said this when responding to a question from a member of the audience who had asked the former prime minister what he would do if he were given the opportunity to run Malaysia again.
The country’s longest serving prime minister was the first guest on Siti’s maiden television programme.
This was a grave mistake by the reporter as Tun Mahathir did not even say the words ‘racial equality’. As the interview was in Bahasa Malaysia, my first thought was, the reporter did not understand Bahasa Malaysia that well.
Racial equality in Bahasa Malaysia would be ‘kesaksamaan antara kaum’. I was sure Malaysian Insider had it wrong with the heading.
In fact, if you look carefully at the article above, the term ‘racial equality’ was only stated in the headline, not in the article itself. It was only the spin put by Malaysian Insider. The closest words that were stated was ‘racial unity’. Even then, I swear I did not hear Tun said ‘perpaduan kaum’ in his statement.
True enough, judging by the amount of negative comments it received, the opposition aligned news portal has achieved its goal through a grave error in reporting.
For those who missed it, the ex premier gave his answer as seen in the video clip below:
What he actually said was “saya mempunyai banyak idea-idea yang boleh menolong membangunkan negara khususnya mengimbangkan kedudukan kaum-kaum di dalam negara kita….” [30 – 40 secs] and “jadi yang saya berniat kalau saya dah kembali jadi perdana menteri, yang tak mungkin, ialah untuk berusaha supaya negara kita dapat mencapai matlamat kita untuk menjadi sebuah negara maju…” [1.02 – 1.25 mins]
If we had taken a bit more time in counter checking with our national language, Tun did not mean racial equality. What he meant was correcting the imbalances between races. This had been his mantra since he started his political career. Everyone with enough salt would have known this. Is Malaysian Insider trying to put words in his mouth?
I even went to the extent of contacting the boss of Malaysian Insider the very same day the article appeared:
So what now?
It is proven that the reporter made an error while performing her duties. I believe negligence at this proportion which tarnished the image of the ex-premier was deliberate in order to gain negative feedback from the public.
What is disappointing is the editorial management of Malaysian Insider which derived its experience from News Straits Times and other reputable media chose to sit on this issue and do nothing to correct the article. Its level of investigation stopped only by looking at the reporter’s notes. Did anybody bother to look at the reruns of the show?
I was lucky a hardcore fan of Siti Nurhaliza sent me the link. If not, this matter would be swept under the carpet and an innocent person was unnecessarily lambasted for things he did not say.
As a reader of Malaysian Insider, I am aghast at this irresponsible editorial attitude. I thought with the amount of advertisements it gained from government linked companies , it would at least strive to be reputable and credible. Surely it does not strive to be just like its big brother, Malaysia Today.
I have a sliver of hope that it won’t.