Letter to the Sun from the Hartalmsm committee

by Hartal MSM committee, The People’s Parliament

On 28th January, the hartalmsm committee launched the ‘Boycott the newspapers’ initiative at the Blog House. You can read about that HERE.

3 days later, theSun published Jacqueline Ann Surin’s ‘Separating fact from fiction’ which, as it turned out, was to be her last column in that daily.

On 12th February, the committee sent a letter to theSun Newsdesk in response to Jac’s last column. We have since checked and to-date, our letter has not been published.

We have, however, received a response to the same by Jac on 13th February. I shall not publish Jac’s reply here unless I have her consent to do so.

The letter sent by the committee appears below.

______________________________

Dear editor,

When theSun assistant editor Jacqueline Ann Surin cautions the public that “we really shouldn’t believe everything we read”, her advice should aptly preface her own writing.

In her Jan 31 column headlined ‘Separating fact from fiction’, she alludes to an e-mail circulated in two e-groups which is “highly inaccurate”. We have managed to trace the original e-mail in question and Hartal MSM – the committee managing ‘Boycott the Newspapers!’ campaign – finds that it is Surin who is misrepresenting the situation, not the author of the e-mail.

The message writer has since clarified in his e-group’s open forum that “in the wake of recent events in Malaysian society, this new move [Berjaya acquiring Nexnews] may be perceived as a step back for freedom of the press”. His misgivings have a legitimate basis and are shared by The People’s Parliament, media observers, other social watchdog organisations and civil society in general.

Surin reads the e-mail as implying theSun’s “editorial team had been changed with immediate effect and that notable columnists no longer had their columns” following your newspaper’s takeover by Vincent Tan. And she insists that this observation is “highly inaccurate”.

To any impartial observer, the validity of the e-mail is easily borne out. Prior to the recent developments, Ho Kay Tat held two positions – theSun group editor-in-chief cum managing director. Chong Cheng Hai was editor and Zainon Ahmad, political editor.

After Tan stepped his other foot into theSun, Zainon was promoted to consultant editor while Chong became acting editor-in-chief, relieving Ho. Chan Kien Sing from Berjaya is now managing director of Sun. Ho is no longer to manage your paper.

These facts speak for themselves.

However, the icing on the MSM misinformation cake is that Surin’s own column has been discontinued because of her ‘return’ to The Edge. This fact not only speaks for itself but also reveals the irony of Surin’s attempt to deny the veracity of the e-mail.

It is this sort of spindoctoring and skewing of the narrative that leaves print media readers with gaps in their understanding unless they read online to fill in the blanks as we do. Publishing innuendo is not being “conscientious and responsible” to facts and accuracy.

It is precisely for these and other reasons that The People’s Parliament has called for a boycott of Malaysian newspapers. We trust that your readers will see our rationale, that is, if your paper elects to publish this letter.

Hartal MSM committee The People’s Parliament

First published in The People’s Parliament on  February 15, 2008

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