As reported in the Malaysian online news portal, Malaysiakini (by Ram Anand, March 26, 2014), the Home Minister of Malaysia, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, is ‘blaming Chinese newspapers’ for “stoking the anger” of the families of those on the ill fated Boeing MH370.
That is a very serious allegation if not an a blatant accusation!
It is reported that the minister said so in the august house of the Parliament, the Dewan Rakyat. And that he went on to further clarify that he was referring to the media in China.
“They have played up sentiment until they provoked the anger of the relatives of victims of MH370 especially those in China.” said Malaysia’s Home Minister.
It makes the media in China look very, very bad!
And if that was not enough, Zahid reiterated that the government of Malaysia should not be blamed for the loss of MH370 because it was an “accident”.
The first lesson for Malaysia's leaders is “accidents” do not drop from heaven, unless you have conclusive evidence that a thunderbolt struck the plane in mid-air. And even then, an accident takes place because of the fusion of two factors, namely an unsafe condition and an unsafe act. But let us keep this lesson for another time.
More importantly, how on earth is Malaysia expected to salvage its battered reputation in the eyes of the world if you have senior leaders taking such provocative and tauntingly hostile positions right in the middle of an unresolved mystery that has 239 lives at stake involving citizens of over a dozen nations?
Has the Malaysian minister not learnt in school, college or within the corridors of power and politics that one should never slay the camel you need to depend on when out in the desert?
Has he never been told that one should not go to war with the media especially when you are stuck in an extremely vulnerable position, not knowing truth from lies, facts from assumptions?
And in the midst of the most unwanted news of a state-of-art aircraft tragedy that has global implications of epic proportions, we have to witness yet another Malaysia-stance hammering the China media.
Yes, Malaysians may have put up with the guns galore that keep pounding their local media that are not patriotically aligned to the world’s longest ruling political party - given the oppressive Printing Presses and Publications Act in the country and for not getting of permits to operate a free and responsible press.
But stop treating media from other nations, too, in like manner. Woe-be-thine to any leader who thinks he or she can muzzle free press - the icon of human freedom, dignity and democracy. And neither appear as trying to kill the sheep to get the wool needed in an attempt to pull wool over the eyes of the peering global community.
China’s media will not lie back
Let Mr Zahid be told, too. Mongolia media may not have created a global outcry over Malaysia’s brutal and world unprecedented slaying of one of their citizens, Altantuya Shaaribuu, in the backyard of Malaysia. But certainly China’s media will not lie back and swallow it hook, line and sinker for as long as there are no globally acceptable answers given with honourable and timely accountability on the missing aircraft that involves 152 of its citizens.
For that matter not even the media in the USA, or any of the nations whose citizens are unaccounted for till this day since the reported missing aircraft, would take an indifferent and uninvolved position.
China’s media is not going to patronise the Umno-BN government at the expense of the outcries that are already sweeping across that vast nation. Already the on-line media and traditional press are abuzz with campaigns from celebrities to business communities to boycott Malaysian products.
Even travel agencies in China have started cancelling MAS promotions back in their homeland.
Get honest, Honourable Home Minister of Malaysia. Stop pushing Malaysia over the cliff of extreme vulnerability?
Can Malaysia afford a media war with China? Can Malaysia afford a ‘Buy Malaysian Last’ campaign in China - as Malaysia’s former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad did when he went ballistic with the ‘Buy British Last’ campaign to muster his political agenda back home.
You must be kidding. Certainly you cannot be naive by virtue of the fact that you are the home minister. The China media is not going to stop here. It will by any measure, do extensive investigative journalism till the ultimate truth is out in the open.
Certainly you cannot ask the China media to be “less hostile”. Surely you cannot ask the China media to be kind and sympathetic to you or your pack of leaders who are spearheading this tragedy.
What you need to recognise is they are not Malaysian media who can be threatened, cajoled and stifled with threats, circulation seizures, hefty lawsuits and withdrawal of permits.
Hence rather then accuse them of “stoking anger”, wisdom should have dictated that you held your tongue. And you would have done better for your nation and all the affected nations and their citizens if had chosen to court the world media - including China’s press with forthright information, clarifications and appeals on a timely, consistent and proactive manner.
Please, Honourable Home Minister of Malaysia, do not further jeopardise Malaysia’s sovereignty, reputation and desperate need for correction.
Learn from Malaysia’s early sultanate whose wisdom prevailed when the Chinese war junks anchored on the Straits of Malacca. They knew despite not having the Internet advantage and social media how small was Malaya and knew too well, too, how to protect the reputation and dignity and honour of both nations.