journalist-and-editor.jpg 

This is a great assignment by social activist Ong Boon Keong and gang in Penang. Instead of ‘waiting to meet and have tea with ministers”, these guys have met up with the STAR to learn how these people operate. Even giving them a chance to engage and a right to reply before calling for a boycott, if that should happen.

The meeting was held on 24 March, 2008, at the STAR office in Bayan Lepas, between STAR representatives : Anna Cheah (Regional Associate Editor), Lim Ai Lee (New editor, Northern Region), J. Sebastian (Assistant Editor, New) and representatives from Civil Society members : Ong, Howie Ng and Damien (representing MAFREL – Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections), and a Penangnite named Stanley.

In short, they gathered that the STAR is a MCA paper, and therefore, not a newspaper but a propaganda machine. Which means, if you support STAR, you directly or indirectly support MCA=UMNO=Racists. You have to make a choice.

Another finding is that STAR is pro-government of the day and this is evident in their coverage of more PKR-DAP-PAS news these days.

Over in Penang Watch, Ong says:

“These are the reports from a close encounter with the Star by a group of civil society members-judge for yourself if the Star is worthy as a balanced press as required by the EC. Also you can always try to encounter these power holders in the media face to face rather than whine and whinge in coffee shops or in blogs alone”.

1) How they publish their stories:

Boss in KL tells them what to write. It’s a top down approach and if they were to cover all stories, it will still be censored or filtered by the KL office. They do not deal with national issues as the KL office will have dominance over these such as the issues of postal votes or election issues.

2) How does The Star cover their stories?

The STAR was asked why certain important news were either not covered or not covered in depth, for example, use of serial numbers on the ballot paper.

Ong brought this up as this caused a lot of  confusion to the people especially on polling day. (Voters confused the serial number for voting paper -which remain, and the serial number for voters-which had been removed).

The Opposition get very little space, as everyone has noticed. According to the STAR, stories about the Opposition will be summarised into one story. For example, if Karpal Singh were to go from one place to another, then all his visits will be tied into one story or headline. But this seems different for BN as more coverage is given for them.

The STAR was also taken to task for conferring government titles to politicians who were actually just care-takers of the government during election campaign time. For example, Najib was still regarded as the DPM when in actual fact, he was only a party member of UMNO at that point of time.

The STAR’s answer to this was: practicality and an attempt to save space. (???). Doesn’t seem to answer the question at all!

3) As for “fair and balanced coverage”, whar does the STAR say about itself?

Anna reiterated that the Star has given a very balanced report. She was not apologetic at all for the “unfair” reporting as perceived by those at the meeting.

Stanley, one of the participants at the meeting, even went to the extent of sharing how some of the news almost made him “puke” especially the advert by the MIC intimidating the voters – `Vote for us or prepared to pay a price’.

Stanley also said that there will a campaign launched to boycott The Star anytime soon if the news content does not change.

Anna repleid that the Star needed to renew its license every year and because of this, they were afraid of “closing shop”.

The group reiterated that the MSM needed to take a “public stand that is pro public interest”.

But Anna sais the country was not ready for an unlicensed media. What? Does this mean we are all stupid and over-sensitive and reading ‘unlicense’ media can start a civil war?

She argued that “chaos & riots” may happen due to the sensitive nature of some news.

Ong says “As to how other countries are well without having to licence their media in this way she didn’t have any reply. Basically, it boils down to their revenue in keeping their company and workers afloat”.

4) The right of reply

One sided news by the STAR was so obvious when Anwar Ibrahim was attacked from all corners by BN party leaders before the elections.

One of the STAR editor, Sebastian, claimed that Anwar was not interested in his right of reply, to which Ong challenged him point blank.

Sebastian reportedly changed his story and conceded that he may have not heard or not well informed about the issue.

According to Ong, this was clearly a case of twisting facts or spinning on the part of the editors.

The right of reply was not given at all to Anwar as this clearly showed the one sided news being printed by The Star.

You can read more, at Penang Watch’s website here:

26 responses »

  1. cancan says:

    Let Us Live Happily Together In Malaysia

    Link: http://www/kingsmary.blogspot.com/

  2. Lim says:

    Only from our vote we can chage this BN super power on every expect of M’sian affair.

  3. Jayenjr says:

    The MSM editors – they need to go. The difference between them & street hookers is that the editors are highly paid

  4. I have been reading The Star for over 20 years. I have always liked it, even though I know it’s obviously heavily biased.
    But this last election, it managed to outdo itself in shameful reporting. I was disgusted. 2 weeks ago, I told Rajoo, my newspaper man, who has been faithfully delivering my papers every morning, that I would not be requiring his services any longer. He was sad. But he understood why.

  5. Lim says:

    Friend of this blog, please point out more other then The Star, therefore i’ll never bay their news till green light have been sign.

  6. Lim says:

    I think one of it is Utusam M’sia, guys beware.

  7. aces says:

    Well I suppose the Star will be ‘toothless’ since MCA is in the BN and also the licence needs to be renewed yearly. Can’t actually blame them totally. Maybe this licence thing can be automatic rather than renewed and can only be revoked if they commits a very serious breach.

  8. headache says:

    Never occurred to me…that STAR is like Harakah, except that Harakah makes no pretense about being the mouthpiece for PAS.

    The change in perception of what the STAR is (it is not MSM but an MCA “newsletter”) makes a world of a difference when (and if) I read the STAR

  9. No FEAR says:

    Susan,

    I am not suprise at all with the kind of answers those in the meeting received because I personally had encountered with this kind of issue few years ago. My comment/complaint letter of my true personal experience (over an unfair practise by one of their big corporate customers/advertisers) was brushed aside by the editor over the phone. They are just ‘parai’ running dogs. It will be good if we call for a serious boycott among the readers, which will have a strong implication on the paper’s circulation and readership figure which in turn will afffect their advertisng dollars.

  10. clearwater says:

    The STAR’S fate ultimately depends on 2 factors, either one of which can deal it a killer blow:
    1. Annual license
    2. Circulation

    Which is more critical to its survival? Licensing, of course. No license, no publication at all. How long can a business entity survive without any business? As for circulation, it’s impact on revenue is much less dramatic . Lower circulation leads to reduced profits or even losses over time but is not an immediate killer blow like a loss of license.

    You are not going to get the STAR or any commercial newspaper to risk having its annual license not being renewed. At best, it can try to be more balanced and fairer in its coverage of socio-political news, which is only part of everyday news anyway. Realistically, I do not expect an independent press to exist under existing laws in Malaysia, even if ownership were to be truly public, as authorities’ tolerance of criticism is paper thin. The big stick is always present. I only wish for a change in government to repeal oppressive laws if the current government will not. Hopefully, the voting public may have matured enough to have the final say in the next election.

  11. KC yip says:

    The Star’s 2008 election reporting would probably get an “F” for biased reporting. 99% of election report was spent on BN, 1% in opposition.

    However, 100% of the 99% (above) carries BN propaganda, while 100% of 1% (above) make opposition look bad. But the shame of all shame was their Chief Editor mediates a Public Forum, just days before election and along came the new BN’s new Minster of Propaganda, Chandra Muzaffar. A mediator from The Star????, what a farce. The Star can never be fair and should never allowed to mediate any forum. They are merely dogs working with their tails btw their legs.

  12. bamboo river says:

    I don’t buy the STAR but I occasionally read them at my regular kopi tiam ( typical Malaysian lah ..FREE mah) and find some of their reports especially on the BR parties are too sweet to my likings.
    It seems after the GE, the paper tends to slowly pally their way into the readers’ taste. Can’t blame them though, after all, five states in Peninsular is in the hand of BR. What else they have to write when those major states are the ones creating news.
    I think the editors in KL must be pulling their hairs figuring out how to make the paper saleable now. More BN news means drop in sales.
    But , I do observed some of their reports are more like questioning the capablities of the BR parties.

  13. lulai says:

    i was suppose to go for that meeting too but since it was during office hours, i can’t go. bk ong also organised visit to other press.

    stanley is the young man who is running a campaign all out to boycott the star. he had written 2 letters to the star already, and after this visit, he had another write up forwarded to everyone. zorro had put it up on his blog.

  14. The Sentinel says:

    The Star used to call itself “the Peoples’ Paper” – an accoldae which they thoroughly deserved. This was during The Star’s Managing Editor’s H’ng Hung Yung’s time. That was when the the Star was at its apex and contributed greatly to the nation and people. Truly a fourth estate then.

    Hung Yung, history has not forgotten you. We have not forgotten you. You have played an important part in the modern history of Malaysia. Had it not been for you and the People’s Paper, we would have been the poorer for it. On the contrary, we have all been richer because of you.

    I think the Agong, Sultans and Yang DiPertuan Besars, should award this man – an anak Malaysia – who had performed an important national service to the country. Let not his name be lost amongst the files of the brief history of modern Malaysia.

    An apology and compensation in some way would also be appropriate for such a man I believe. Heroes do not come by every day.

  15. Allen Tan says:

    Maybe you all can read Star online FOC. Don’t buy, see them bankrupt.

  16. Damocles says:

    Why waste time interviewing them?
    Since a political party is their boss, they must follow its instructions – it’s that simple!
    Would they dare disobey orders?
    We should not worry about what they write but go all out to dump the BN.
    Don’t we have enough after fifty years? Why hanker for more?
    Just dump them!
    It’s a distinct possibility now!

  17. pathfinder says:

    Let me share with u my point of view. Star is trying so hard to do business in this land of UMnos. Their yearly renewal license is like having UMnos hand holding their balls. Everytime they try to report straight they got squeeze. Look at Harakah and rocket. The circulation is only among their members. Even then UMnos also flexes their muscles every now and then by squeezing their balls when it comes to renewal of license. The solution to all our problems is simple. Solve the problem at the source. By next election Vote out UMnos and all our problems will go away. They still think that they are calling the shots. Look what the fella with 2Mohd to his name says so arrogantly to his fellow UMnos member. So vote out those buggers, they still have not learnt that we are the boss. What say U.??

  18. malaysian says:

    I was sad when Star was banned in 1980s. Now I think Star should be banned and canned forever. Wong Chun Wai makes me puke everytime I see his face in the E-diotic Ong bros’ papers. It is amazing what Datukship can do a person’s intergrity. Some people are just spineless and unfortunately they still think they are right. Also, ask Star fellas how much they get for their bonus and trust me, it is very very very good. No need to guess how much WCW is getting and I bet he does not understand ‘derita rakyat” under BN.

  19. ANg kong says:

    over the last 2 yrs (ths is how long i’ve stopped buying it), i have persuaded no less than 30-40 close friends to do the same.

    will continue to do the same for the foreseeable future…till they tutup kedai.

    editors of the stars are the most spineless journalists in the world of media. if u hav no integrity and guts to speak yr mind…. 2 most essential attributes in any journalists, u might as well not bother crawling off the bed every morning, perhaps considers turning the newspaper into a tabloid n covers celebrities, gossips, UFOs etc etc. Then i might start buying the newspaper for my daily trip to the loo.

  20. ANg kong says:

    lets say those editors are still worthy given the benefit of a doubt, if u r gonna let UMNO-BN uses you as a propaganda tool, u might as well not bother renewing the license.
    redeem your sin so come the next election when the UMNO is voted out, u all wil still have a job.

  21. Vincent says:

    Hi Susan,

    Good article. I am beginning to think that these Mainstream Media are hopeless and spineless.

    In this day and age, is it really possible to riot? Look at our country, not a single race is oppressed to the extent of desperation ala Tibet or France?

    Our protest is usually limited to minor street protest, nobody in his fair mind will raise an armed protest in Malaysia.

    I have written some comments in my blog on Press Freedom. http://vwfs68.blogspot.com will free to comment.

    Best Regards,

    Vincent

  22. Ahila says:

    Once a upon a time…I loved The Star….dying to get my hands on it daily!
    It has been a month now,since I bought one. Why? Hopeless……Useless…Spineless….and MOST OF ALL..UNETHICAL !!!!
    MSM men and women..you are traitors to the community. You denied our rights to know the ‘truth and nothing but the truth’. Your tilted news sucks !
    Shame on YOU MSM !!!

  23. Discrimination69 says:

    Semantics Terrorist Against Rakyat ………thats what STAR stands for or “Spinning Tales Against Rakyat”

    Ulasan Ta’adil Untuk Semua Anak Negara………UTUSAN!!!

    Nonsense Story Teller……..NST

    Enid Blyton’s books are more interesting to read…

  24. wits0 says:

    At the Trial at Nuremburg, the Nazis all claimed to follow orders too. The Star is today facing judgement together with other MSM noose paper. How long should they be excused?

  25. Ah Long says:

    I still buy The Star. It is still very useful to check 4 digit numbers and sports results.

    Also good to check out the entertainment pages and see where got cheap sales.

    After that use to wrap up rubbish.

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