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Friday, January 30, 2015

Air the dirty laundry, please

Trying to silence the media will sharpen the perception that there is something to hide.
COMMENT
puad-zarkashi1Plugging your ears and screaming at the top of your voice so you don’t have to listen to someone or telling  the teacher you were bullied when someone told you the unvarnished truth is a time-honoured playground tradition, with rules that make life so simple that adults sometimes wish they could play by them too.
With so much being said here on FMT on the power struggle between Mahathir and Najib, having such rules would be like a breath of fresh air.
Luckily for Umno Supreme Council member Mohd Puad Zarkashi, he can turn to the MCMC to get all these nasty analysts to kindly back off from the situation as Umno members are feeling the heat from all the speculation and analysis going on.
We will state right here and now that Free Malaysia Today is an independent news portal, unbeholden to any political party or coalition, and to that end we will carry news when it is news no matter where or whom it comes from. We will feature opinion pieces if they make clear arguments. The contributors can praise when they think it is deserved, criticise where they feel criticism is needed, and analyse what our politicians plot and scheme to give some insight into what’s going on. Come to think of it, we don’t have to state all this at all. Anyone who has been a regular reader of FMT can see that we give space to any side of a debate as long as it makes fairly good sense. After all, we are not privy to everything that goes on in the halls of power.
Does Puad suggest that no one write at all about the attacks on finance minister Daim Zainuddin? Or the dramatic speech Muyhiddin Yassin made at the recent Umno general assembly, in which he made a case for himself?
When it comes to politics, no action can be wasted, everything must have a purpose, or at least it should. Reading between the lines may be an imprecise method of divining the truth, but nonetheless the meaning of each action is something of public concern and thus falls to the pressure of scrutiny.
Look, we get it. No one likes his dirty laundry being aired out in public, and we understand that Umno is going through a difficult time. But as long as a matter is of public interest, we must, as a media organisation, give it due attention. Actually, we think Puad has only made the situation worse for his party. After all, the easiest way to lend credibility to a situation is to attempt to silence the discussion around it.
The battle between Najib and Mahathir is a very real thing. In the same way that Abdullah Badawi was removed in an operation conducted by the good doctor, Najib too may be on his way out of the big picture. Whether Puad likes it or not, this has major repercussions for the average Malaysian, and the media are not alone in trying to analyse every move made in this game.
Silencing the media may have been a tactic that worked before the Internet came along. Coercive laws to prevent the print media from going against the party line once worked, but the Internet has provided a public space for discussion, and unless someone is willing to speak the absolute truth about any matter, analysis and speculation will continue regardless of actions taken on media organisations.
If Puad truly feels that Umno is under threat by the analyses done by FMT’s contributors and the news we carry, we invite him to have his say on the current situation in his party. After all, hearing one side of the story is not enough to get the complete picture, and we would be honoured to have Puad tell his side, as long as it is fairly well written and argued.

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