Did Kosmo! defame Yasmin Ahmad?

Hartal MSM commentary (July 30, 2009)

National Press Club president Ahirudin Attan blogged this Rocky Bru story under the headline, ‘Journo to journo: How low can you go?’ The censure of one of their own is indeed almost unprecedented, but this is merely a storm in the teacup oblivious to the tempest raging outside.

A group of former and practicing journalists associated with NST are angry over an article on the late advertising maestro Yasmin Ahmad, which appeared in Malay tabloid Kosmo!

‘Darkest day’ in newspaper history

Their letter protesting the coverage – and addressed to the chairman of Utusan group that publishes Kosmo! – began: “27th July, 2009 marked the darkest day in Malaysian journalistic history yet. The story entitled ‘Takdir Yasmin’ was despicable, vile and cruel.”

Hartal MSM cannot agree that the day on which Yasmin was front-paged on a tabloid was the darkest day in Malaysian journalism. We can count many much darker examples.

One that comes first to mind is the photograph of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah splashed across the front pages of major Malaysian newspapers just because he was wearing Kadazan headgear. Utusan Malaysia on Oct 19, 1990 ran this front page headline: ‘Orang ramai marah Razaleigh pakai tengkolok bersalib’.

It brought racialism and Malaysian dirty politics to a record low.

Honour among thieves?

Neither do we agree with the letter writers that Utusan – “the media owner” – parted with “his personal honour” in regard to this particular Kosmo! story as, after all, it is only what one might expect from a colourful tabloid whose masthead bears a sensational exclamation mark.

The truth of the matter is the Utusan media conglomerate reached the pinnacle of successful collaboration with the establishment when their group editor Zainuddin Mydin was made Information Minister. You do the math, where does Kosmo! rank on this scale?

Rather, we can think of certain stories emanating from the Utusan fleet that more are deserving of protest than ‘Takdir Yasmin’.

We don’t recall those people – now up in arms over the ‘Yasmin was a man’ story – having previously protested nor mounted any signature campaign when the Utusan mothership cast slurs on Anwar Ibrahim’s sexuality (mengaibkan Anwar) or demonised Hindraf supporters or most recently launched their ‘Bangkitlah Melayu’ drive.

Who has been more malicious?

This time, however, Star group-editor Wong Chun Wai took the initiative and rang up the Kosmo! editor, following which Wong wrote: “I do not think there was any malice but it was perhaps poor judgment on their part. There is also the question of human decency, which they have overlooked.”

We too believe that the Kosmo! reporter did not intend to be malicious. But really, if you want malice to bristle over, there are better examples.

The letter writers claim that besides wanting to boost sales, “the real intention” of Kosmo! was “to defame and destroy Yasmin’s good name with salacious gossip”.

It is not easy to fathom any person’s true intention; comparatively it’s less hard to gauge our reaction to what a journalist writes. Here’s our checklist on ‘Takdir Yasmin’ .

Readers please ask yourselves

(1) Did we, Hartal MSM, feel that the article attacked Yasmin’s reputation, or in other words did we – after reading it – believe her to be of ill repute? No, we did not.

(2) Did the article besmirch Yasmin’s good name, or to put it another way, did we – after reading it – think her to be immoral or unethical? Nope.

(3) Was the Kosmo! article founded on “salacious gossip”? Salacious means “treating sexual matters in a frank and obscene way”. Revealing that Yasmin had had a gender re-assignation is a neutral statement of medical fact.

(a) Salacious, on the other hand, is something titillating. We might even venture to say ‘salacious’ was the speculation swirling around semen stains on a certain infamous mattress carted to court daily during the period when the letter writers were serving in NST.

(b) Gossip? Gossip is “casual talk about the affairs of other people, typically including rumour and critical comments”. If the gender-change operation represents a falsehood, then we would urge the letter writers to go right ahead and sue Kosmo!

As for ‘critical’ commentary, please check out the Appendix below where we’ve listed the turns of phrase employed by Kosmo! You, in turn, might want to tell us whether the descriptions are “despicable, vile and cruel” as described by the NST /ex-NST editors and their supporters.

We do not feel that the coverage was unkind criticism of Yasmin. In fact, it was in keeping with the spirit of Yasmin’s own work. Flashing back: Try imagining in your mind’s eye a teenage Yasmin performing that historic bend-it-like-Beckham curl straight into the goalmouth; it brings on a bemused, feel-good smile.

As such, we beg to differ with Marina Mahathir (who is shrilly promoting the said letter in her blog) that the Kosmo! revelation of Yasmin’s sex change operation has sullied her reputation. Unless Marina is suggesting that to determine one’s gender through the application of modern surgical procedures is something to be ashamed of?

What is an obituary?

When Michael Jackson died last month – major publications like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian; respectable magazines like The Economist, Newsweek and TIME; the BBC, CNN – all covered his child molestation charges in their obituaries.

An obituary essentially encapsulates who the deceased was.

The Kosmo! article ‘Takdir Yasmin’ – and it may surprise you to learn this, given the outrage that’s pouring from the sanctimonious ‘How low can you go’ bloc – was not judgmental of Yasmin’s gender choice.

As seasoned newsmen, does the ‘Yasmin’ letter writer-School-of-Journalism hold that the salient fact of Yasmin of being born a man should be concealed from the reading public? No wonder then that we have the media shroud that we do enveloping Malaysia.

It’s not as if there was no prior knowledge of this; Yasmin’s gender re-assignation story already saw print during her lifetime.

Seriously, do the five letter writers – being editors themselves – think so lowly of the Malaysian audience that they fear there will be a backlash if the reader should find out that Yasmin carried XY chromosomes in the early part of her life?

Yasmin’s reputation was not built on her gender but defined by her award-winning body of work – and Malaysians are intelligent and progressive enough to accept such a realisation.

Hurting the families

The letter writers conclude with this appeal: “Let’s uphold the kind of journalism that this country so desperately needs”.

[Hmm …]

We hope that all the people who have endorsed their strongly-worded letter to Utusan will eventually follow up with – what in our opinion is – a more relevant thrust on the kind of journalism desired.

The letter writers had admonished: “Yasmin’s family was grieving and at their most vulnerable. Yet your editor saw fit to run a story that showed utter disregard of the late Malaysian filmmaker, her family and the many Malaysians who still mourn her.”

We would have hoped that these letter-writing folks decrying the Kosmic! transgression by revealing Yasmin’s gender at birth had themselves earlier noticed that the families of A. Kugan, A. Gnanapragasam, R. Gunasegaran and many others who died in police lock-up were also grieving.

The families were grieving when Utusan editors – and not to mention editors of NST, the publication that the letter writers are/were associated with, like Azmi Anshar for instance – saw fit to run a story that showed utter disregard of the late detainees in police lock-up, Teoh Beng Hock and the many Malaysians who still mourn them.

Or is the deep concern of journalists that prompted this remarkably rare breach of industry esprit de corps only reserved for acclaimed public figures like Yasmin, and not for unknown members of the underclass.

Who deserves to be boycotted?

For those readers who are unacquainted with the background of our group, Hartal MSM is a mediawatch team born in the People’s Parliament at end-2007 to counter mainstream media spin in the run-up to the last general election. We advocated a ‘Paper-free Tuesday – No buy, No lies’.

As such you would think that we should be gratified to hear Marina Mahathir now suddenly raising the battlecry for a boycott of Kosmo!, insisting this is what Malaysians who feel “equally disgusted” by the “some truly low creatures at that despicable rag called Kosmo” must do.

Our Hartal call to boycott in principle covered all publications, but we wouldn’t focus on tabloids when it is the big fish – Utusan‘s politicized editorials and main news slant – that is the most malignant cancer.

On the question of proportionality and priority, Kosmo! is small fry.

Yasmin had a big heart and would have been – in our estimate – the sort of person who’d want Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I will survive’ and Roy Orbison’s ‘Pretty Woman’ played at her wake rather than having her celebrity friends rant ‘disgustedly’ about ‘despicable’ entertainment ‘rags’, one which readers have to admit, had ordinarily printed hundreds of column inches lauding Yasmin’s work in the past, and paying their tributes presently.

While Marina flays Kosmo! – “is there no decency among the editors and reporters there?” – and the NST-associated folks talk about “ethical journalistic conduct” and “acting with humanity”, we hope that they will condescend to re-seat themselves at their personal computers and tap out the next letters on behalf of the other bereaved Malaysian families irreparably hurt by irresponsible journalism.

Hartal MSM will be glad to furnish the name list in alphabetical order, starting with A. Kugan.

APPENDIX

Excerpts from Kosmo article [full text in pdf]:

Is this below “despicable, vile and cruel”?

  • diratapi peminat pelbagai kaum (her passing lamented by fans of all races)
  • tetap diingati (will be forever remembered)
  • insan yang sangat kreatif (a highly creative individual)
  • menghasilkan filem-filem … yang cukup mengamit perasan (produced films that truly touch the heart)
  • ramai peminat seni berasa sedih (many loyal fans are saddened)
  • mesej karya-karyanya cukup menginsafkan (the message conveyed through her ouvre is truly inspirational)
  • striker bola sepak yang hebat sehingga dapat mewaklili negeri/aktif dalam acara balapan (was an ace striker in football, represented ‘his’ state, was active in track-and-field events)
  • pelajar terbaik subjek Sains (best student in Science)
  • pengawas sekolah yang tegas (a strict school prefect)
  • berbakat – naib juara Bintang RTM 1975 (talented – runner-up in Bintang RTM singing competition)
  • menikmati hidangan asam pedas ikan (loves hot assam fish dish)
  • cukup manja … semasa kecil (was manja with the interviewee as a child)
Comments
33 Responses to “Did Kosmo! defame Yasmin Ahmad?”
  1. Kalambong says:

    To say that Kosmo! is vile is like saying NST and Utusan and all the MSM in M’sia are worse than hell

    Those people like Marina are out of touch with the people of this country. Their clique is so high up that their perspective is totally out of tune with the rest of our country folks

    To know Yasmin is not just to “know” her, you gotta FEEL what she felt, SEE what she saw, THINK what she thought… but then, Marina and her kind could never ever understand

    Sad to say, our country is ruled by people like that

  2. khensthoth says:

    Incidentally, I read the Kosmo report today before you published this, and I am of the same opinion as you. I do not find the article malicious, nor do I think the reporters wrote them in the intention of malice.

  3. shamsulyunos says:

    alamak another one f those ‘principled’ anonymous wielding their mighty sword from behind shadows

    takutnyaaa

  4. Warga Emas says:

    Bukan Marina seorang saja yang tak berpijak di bumi nyata, ramai lagi anak anak yang berhormat yang serupa dengan nya. Bilakah kali terakhir mereka naik bas, atau naik LRT? Makan nasi bungkus? Pakai baju yang di beli di pasar malam atau ada dalam kocek dua puloh ringgit sahaja lagi sedangkan gaji akan keluar tiga hari lagi?

  5. jane abdullah says:

    I did not read Cosmo nor MM on Yasmin. Thanks for this note. After reading this, I too was a little puzzled as to why the former NST journos and MM were unhappy with the “out-of-the-closet article”. MM especially as she was formerly the patron of Malaysian AIDS Council where issues of gender re-assignment concerns are commonplace. It is up to Yasmin’s immediate family to make the case if they find it a breach of privacy. As you have said it, Yasmin tried to challenge boundaries. In her life and in death (with this story out), I think she has done it well.

  6. yay says:

    its ok from the ketuanan paper.

    well protected by ketuanan cops.

    why just keep on talking. hartal them. its as simple as that.

    but why the ketuanan dont give two hoods about hartal? coz they know we are darn good as armchair critics.

  7. Mimi says:

    Please comment on the treatment by media coverage on Teoh Beng Hock’ death.

    I find the coverage exceedingly distasteful and disrespectul of the family.

    The family may not realise it now as they are still in shock and grieve, but what about a few years later? Would they feel they’ve been manipulated for news value?

  8. My2cen says:

    1. I don trust MM. I think she purposely blow up the issue in her blog. The matter was already circulating over the internet but we all didn’t read about it until MM highlighted it to us.
    2. Yasmin was born in 1958. If she took part in the 1975 contest, that will make her a minor. That picture of Zulkifli does look more matured.
    3. In anycase, she’s a beautiful human being. Open minded and giving. It doesn’t matter if she’s genetically XY, XX, XXY or XXXY. She made an impact and portrayed how Malaysians really lived, not as dictated by the racist regime who rules from Putrajaya. We thank her for showing us the other side of Malaysians.

    May she rest in peace.

  9. Lam says:

    Even without reading the Kosmo article, I really don’t believe it is salacious to state a fact of life. People in the ad industry are already fully aware of Yasmin’s backgroundI. Her background is not ‘dirty’; in fact, it is the outrage expressed by these ‘moral’ groupies that has cast aspersions and rendered the whole episode ‘dirty’. Obviously, they want the rest of us to share their view that trans-gender is to be abhorred, and must b e ‘locked in the closet’.

  10. Satria Asia says:

    Regardless whether it defamed or not, the article was to my mind, in bad taste. She had just passed away and many felt the loss.

    • Helen Ang says:

      Yes, Satria, it was in poor taste and insensitive to the grieving family.

      But the main focus of the Hartal MSM article was on ‘proportionality and priority’. And there’s no legal punishment for bad taste but there is for libel.

      It’s wholly understandable that Yasmin’s friends, fans and the public at large were incensed.

      But we were questioning the sense of balance of the 5 letter writers (seniors of NST past or present) who are seasoned journalists and who should have had a more proportioned sense of social awareness and sense of priority in terms of news impact.

      Yasmin died of natural, health reasons. Others like Beng Hock and Francis Udayappan who were in the pink of health suffered ‘sudden death’ whilst in the custody of the authorities. Kugan showed torture marks. Francis’ partially decomposed body was found floating in a river.

      Imagine how ‘remuk’ was the heart of Francis’ mother, Kugan’s mother. Yet not a peep from these journos or Marina Mahathir ere this, until it involved someone rich and famous — whose early passing was ‘peaceful’, not violent, not tragic.

      Ponder on the insensitivity of NST when it, alongside other the papers, pursued the story that Soh Cher Wei will not be allowed to name Teoh Beng Hock as the father of her child on its birth certificate, and reporting the call on her to have the baby DNA-tested. Was that not so hurtful to the bereaved family?

      All this happened months and days before Yasmin’s passing. Not a squeak of protest from the Kosmo! flayers did we hear …

      • Lynn says:

        Helen

        I second every word you just said. The key word here is ‘rich and famous. That’s why I don’t visit MM’s blog and her father’s blog as well.

  11. Actually, that Yasmin Ahmad had gender reassignment surgery was no secret. (How could such a major event be?!) Anyone who had any interest or involvement in the advertising industry knew it. That’s at least a few hundred people. What about the people the few hundred had shared with? That should bring the number to a few thousand.

    The point is- it was no secret. And it couldn’t have been a secret. It’s only new to people who did not know her or know about her long enough.

    So since Yasmin Ahmad went through such a controversial and major and unhide-able change and had no qualms about it, what’s the big hoohaa with these people? Are they concerned for Yasmin Ahmad, or concerned for their own reputations as they were seen to be close to her?

    I find the justification for their outburst that they are concerned for her family to be especially demeaning to her memory and her family. i mean, Yasmin even made a short film about her parents, which raised a big hue and cry because it showed them bathing each other in a river. Her parents had no qualms about the film being made and viewed by the public.

    So I wish Rocky & gang would refer to Yasmin’s family first to get their opinions about the story before climbing on the soap box to trumpet their moral superiority to the world.

    • Helen Ang says:

      Lots of people knew the ‘secret’. I knew aeons ago.

      This bunch of people riding their moral high horses — who trumpet the need for the Freedom of Information Act — practise one standard for ‘The Secret’ of their famous friends and another standard for common people.

      Anything is fine to be printed about poor people.

      They can be called “suspected thieves”, “suspected robbers”, “suspected rapists”, “”suspected murderers” when they’re dead at police hands and in police shootouts, and can’t defend their good name,

      and their poor families, unlike Yasmin’s do not have the connections in high places to raise a stink and cry against the papers that call them so.

    • Kalambong says:

      Please allow me to quote your last para –

      “So I wish Rocky & gang would refer to Yasmin’s family first to get their opinions about the story before climbing on the soap box to trumpet their moral superiority to the world.”

      That’s it, MORAL SUPERIORITY !!

      In this country, it has gotten to the point of damn sickening

      Teoh Beng Hock can be murdered, but we aren’t even allowed to feel anger and/or sad, because, according to their “MORAL SUPERIORITY”, we are “blowing up a non-issue”

      Altantuya can be C4ed, but we are not even allowed to think of where the C4 came from, because doing so may end us up in Kamunting

      Helen has been kind to use “seasoned journalists” to describe that mongrel bunch of yellow-journalism-practitioners

      I’ll close with a word that suits them — “mempersiasuikan”

  12. malaysianheart says:

    I believe that expressing outrage at Kosmo! while at the same time ignoring the flagrant journalistic misconduct elsewhere in the MSM smacks of double standards and hypocrisy. However, I have a different opinion on the ethics of Kosmo’s article on Yasmin Ahmad.

    My take is this:
    Since a journalist’s first obligation is to seek truth and report it, why is this article in Kosmo! a breach of journalistic ethics? Because even if it is true, it violates another principle that journalists are obliged to uphold:

    Minimize Harm – Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.

    According to this principle, journalists should:

    * Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
    * Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
    * Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
    * Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
    * Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
    * Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects or victims of sex crimes.
    * Be judicious about naming criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges.
    * Balance a criminal suspect’s fair trial rights with the public’s right to be informed.

    (From the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics)

    In the case of Kosmo’s article, the people behind it have violated this principle in at least four ways:

    1. They have treated the memory of their subject, a recently deceased person no longer able to tell her side of the story, with disrespect, making allegations that may (given prevailing societal attitudes, prejudiced though they may be) diminish how she is remembered by Malaysians, and expose her family to odium.
    2. They showed little compassion to her family and scant regard for the potential harm to her aged and frail mother.
    3. They did not demonstrate any overriding public need that could have justified such an intrusion into their grief and privacy.
    4. The mode in which they presented their report suggests that they have pandered to lurid curiosity, perhaps motivated by the need to sell newspapers.

    Therefore, I believe that Kosmo! has breached journalistic ethics, and should be held accountable for it.

  13. muhammad ali says:

    hartal my foot! you rabid pro-opposition wussies can’t tell the difference between a lie and a criticism even if the thing bites your ass with a 3-foot pincer. if the msm spins for the bn, you wussies spin just as hard for the dap, anwar and whoever whacks the govt, even if the whackings are diversions built upon similar spins and lies.
    Hey, anwar was the master spinmaster, long before kalimullah came to the scene. current spinners learnt the best tricks from anwar. Lim kit siang & co took the leaf from there.
    If you guys want to bash bn msm for spinning, knock yourselves out. but don’t go around claiming you are fair & neutral. Just like the bn msm, you all have a pro-opposition agenda.
    You want to impress me? Take the same vicious crack at Malaysiakini, msia insider, rocket, harakah & suara keadilan too. Use bylines of real human beings and not hide behind hartal’s skirt. In time, you will expose yourselves as nothing more than a bunch of hypocrites clinging hard to march 8 in pathetic self-denial.

    • Lynn says:

      Oh really, Muhammad Ali? us, ‘a bunch of hypocrites clinging hard to march 8 in pathetic self-denial’? And what are you???????

    • Kalambong says:

      Isn’t it a bit irony for someone who are so “morally superior” to utter such phrase like “rabid pro-opposition wussies” ???

  14. sulastree says:

    Just imagine what will happen before she passed away if Yasmin openly coming out saying that she is a tarnsgender??????????????

    • hartalmsm says:

      You have a point Sulastree — it was an insensitive intrusion of privacy at a very unsuitable moment, and it memang buat kecoh.

      But take a step back and look at the larger picture. The letter writers and Marina Mahathir are what we would consider progressive and liberal women.

      The lead letter writer Datin Rose Ismail was a very senior manager and senior editor with NST. She has been supportive of Sisters-in-Islam who have been promoting tolerance on gender issues.

      Are these women implying that Yasmin’s ‘secret’ is something so bad, so shameful that it will ruin her reputation if the general public knew?

      What if a ‘nobody’ was in Yasmin’s shoes (when alive)?

      Yasmin is much loved by all, hence her stature will help this marginalized segment win acceptance.

  15. Bryan says:

    There is No Black Or White. Please allow the dearly departed to Rest in Peace.

    Remember the goodness in them. The trademark they have given us.

    Like Michael Jackson, our beloved Yasmin preaches Love. Let us be guided by her marvelous work & Heal the World. Stop the Rhetoric & Mourn our Dearly Departed with Love & Bless their departed souls with the Message of Love.

    May Kugan, Gunasegaran, Yasmin, Beng Hock, Koh Keat Lee & all the others that have perished be allowed to Rest Eternally in Peace & Love.

  16. Lil says:

    I 101% agree with Bryan : whether our dearly departed Yasmin is what has been gossiped, so what? Let’s not judge a book by its cover! To me, Jasmin is a person filled with love & compassion., her goodness overflows ….

    Let all Malaysians remember her for her good works, the legacy she has left behind. Well done, Jasmin, rest in peace!

  17. @ muhammad ali,

    You claim that we “can’t tell the difference between a lie and a criticism”. Can you show us where we have conflated the two?

    You claim that we “spin just as hard for the dap, anwar and whoever whacks the govt, even if the whackings are diversions built upon similar spins and lies”. Can you show us where we have spun so?

    These are not rhetorical questions. Please do show us, we would like to know.

    We stand firmly with our principle that we will be fair and neutral. If you believe that we have been otherwise, the least you could do is to clearly state your case.

    We will critique & comment on any media organization that is not free, fair and ethical. If you have any evidence of their journalistic misconduct, please feel free contact us.

    By the way, the Hartal MSM byline represents our group’s position, based on consensus, on a particular issue.

    If you were buying a used car, which of these would you base your decision on: the name and reputation of the dealer OR a thorough evaluation of the engine, transmission, electricals, bodywork etc? Remember that Bernie Madoff had an excellent reputation all the time he was swindling investors of their life’s savings. It would be to all readers’ benefit (including yours) to carefully judge ALL media articles and commentary (including ours), by the strength of the arguments presented therein.

    You wrote, “In time, you will expose yourselves as nothing more than a bunch of hypocrites”. We are grateful for your scrutiny. Please do tell us whenever you feel we have not met our own standards and are being hypocritical. This will help us be true to our principles.

    Malaysian Heart

  18. Estee says:

    It disturbs me the nature of these comments. Firstly, the discussion about the nature of her biological sex of which seems to have been decided upon, although none of the commentators have any evidence of. ‘Open secret’? Really? Who shared with you this open secret, Helen and Sulastree and Eyes Wide Open? Yasmin herself? Her parents? Her husband? Well, you must have heard it from distant third-party sources. Just like Dr M heard from distant third-party sources that AI was bisexual? And can we decide on the ‘truth’ of that open secret based on distant third-party sources?

    Secondly, if people choose to defend Yasmin, its their every right to do so. Maybe she touched their lives. Maybe they love her. What’s stopping you from connecting with a crowd beyond yours to raise up issues in a similar manner?

    Thirdly, for each and every person who is impacted by such journalism, each and every encounter is painful. All of us who are distant from the report subjects in all of these cases – can judge ‘impartially’ the weightage and the importance of each case.

    Fourthly, its not the first time the tabloid breached journalistic ethics, but guess what – I’m glad they got rapped on their knuckles. And you know it was civil society who rapped their knuckles, not the PM, not some minister. So rather than say, hey why in this case, maybe the way is to look at the strategy and say, we can use this strat the next time? Isn’t that more productive?

    • Helen Ang says:

      Estee,

      (1) On your first point – Absolutely! We too were disturbed when the reporters suddenly resorted to throwing words like “despicable, vile and cruel.” That they saw the Kosmo! article to be “a vicious attack”. That they suddenly saw themselves to be the protectors of “ethical journalistic conduct” now, in year 2009 when ‘journalistic conduct’ was questionable long before.

      The nature of Marina Mahathir’s vitriol disturbed us too – her ranting “some truly low creatures at that despicable rag called Kosmo who are determined to defame her … to sell their rag and make their readers even more stupid.”

      Even though Hartal MSM had previously, like Marina, advocated a boycott of newspapers, we were not elitist in presuming that tabloid readers who are allegedly ‘stupid’ (in Marina’s eyes) would be made even ‘stupider’.

      (2) If they choose to defend Yasmin’s “secret”, that’s fine but on what basis their attack on Kosmo? These are the sort of people who would be for the ‘Freedom of Information’ Act.

      What Kosmo! is guilty of is insensitivity and untimeliness.

      (a) But those people accused Kosmo! of ‘defamation’. This is a legal matter to be brought up in court – so sue for libel. However, it’s not against the law to have poor taste and bad judgment; it’s only against the law to publish lies that defame.

      Those people also accused the Kosmo! article specifically of implying that Yasmin had duped her fans; now can you honestly say — after reading the article — that the Kosmo! reporters had anywhere indicated that Yasmin “duped” Malaysians?

      If you can, show me that sentence.

      If you can’t, then it is the NST crowd and Marina who have “sullied the reputation” of the Kosmo! reporter/s — i.e. evaluating the written content per se, which is to be differentiated from editorial decision, i.e. the editor/s who either assigned or approved the story.

      (b) Did they “sully her reputation”, “destroy her good name” with the ‘gender’ revelation? If you think less lowly of Helen Ang upon learning that she was a boy when she was 5 years old or of Haris Ibrahim learning that Haris was a girl when he was 5 years old (we’re not, this rhetorical) – then it reflects on YOUR own mindset, Estee.

      (3) You’ve got it right when you say, “All of us who are distant from the report subjects in all of these cases – can judge ‘impartially’ the weightage and the importance of each case.”

      That’s why we’re mediawatch, to weigh as impartially as we can. We see the value of Yasmin’s life and Kugan’s life as of equal importance. The pain caused to the both their families are of equal concern.

      (4) Like you, we saw from the prominent apology from Kosmo! that by golly, the “strategy” worked. Since we’re not God to read the mind of the Utusan chairman or privy to their boardroom discussion, we do not know which deciding factor tilted them to capitulate after three days of holding out (before eventually apologizing).

      What we can see from our end is that it was Money (advertisers threatening to punish Utusan), peer pressure (the journos) and prestige (the ex-PM’s daughter) that effectively rapped their knuckles.

      What upset us was that the above three factors did not coalesce for Kugan and the rest. The one common denominator of the three elements is that they have money/capital, access to the media and a platform from which to broadcast.

      It is not something that the poor families of Kugan, Francis Udayappan, Gnanapragasam and Gunasegaran have at their disposal.

      What we’d hope to see is a Malaysia where there is not such a big gap between the top 10% of society and the bottom 10%.

    • I take it you’re not in advertising, that’s why you’re not in the know.

      However, you have missed the point of my comment and also the hartalmsm’s position. We are not discussing her gender. We are discussing the priorities of the media – why is there no outrage about the rampant political corruption and controversies which has got the nation outraged? Why this storm in a teacup?

      Yasmin Ahmad chose her lifestyle. And she has touched many lives including my own. She is permanently on my blog sidebar as a true Malaysian.

      I am not hung up about her sexual preferences. Why are you?

  19. Tiara says:

    Thank you. Kosmo’s article was remarkably positive considering the hostility directed towards queer people in Malaysia. It’s a step forward.

    What’s more salacious and advantage-taking, IMHO, is the constant harping by folks from The Star on Twitter about how they do tributes properly (“4 pages on Yasmin tomorrow!”) and about this petition that apparently no one else online seems to know about. It became less about what Yasmin would have wanted and more about showing off how good they supposedly are. (And I write this as one of their BRATs, which saddens me.)

  20. Dzul Paka says:

    Bagi saya tidak ada salahnya artikel kosmo itu.

    Kenyataan adalah kenyataan dan orang akan memperkatakan apa yang seseorang manusia itu lakukan semasa hayatnya. Samada orang akan mengatakannya kemudian atau sekarang hanyalah faktor penentu masa sahaja.

    Apa yang menjadi persoalan adalah tentang sikap dan perlakuan kita semasa kita hidup. Jika kita menjalani hidup dengan norma-norma murni dan diiringi dengan peradaban yang tinggi maka apabila mati kita akan dikenang sebegitu sahaja.

    Tetapi jika kehidupan kita penuh dengan populariti , glamor , kontroversi , bekas pemimpin dan apa sahaja label yang boleh menaikkan nama kita maka apabila mati kita akan dikenang sebagai sebagai salah seorang yang “berpengaruh” dalam masyarakat. Dan segala cerita tentang perjalanan hidup kita pasti akan diketahui oleh orang ramai.

    Saya percaya jika Kosmo tidak siarkan berita tersebut , akan ada akhbar lain yang menyiarkan nya kemudian atau laman web dan blog akan mendahului berita tersebut.
    Jadi berita tersebut pasti akan tersebar juga. Hanya masa yang menentukan.

    P/s: kalau laman web atau blog yang siarkan dahulu adakah akan ada bantahan seperti ini…?

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