Monday, May 29, 2006

Chinese Malaysian like frogs boiled gently

“Like a frog swimming in a pot being gradually heated up, the public has shown little consciousness of a deepening crisis.”
- Writers Alliance for Media Independence

The Writers Alliance for Media Independence (Wami) had warned the Malaysian public about the dangers of timber tycoon Tiong Hiew King acquiring a 20.44 percent stake in Nanyang Holdings, making him the second largest shareholder in the publishing company.

Tiong already owns Sin Chew Media Corporation which publishes Sinchew Daily and Guangming Daily.

Wami advised us of the nexus between politics and the Malaysian media, where the media supports the ruling party while the ruling party prevents newcomers form entering the market.

Because of this monolithic control, Wami said Tiong’s acquisition of Nanyang Press shares had not even alarmed the public, precisely an outcome of the dangers of media control without any independent press raising questions.

Wami said the monopolised Chinese dailies have filtered information available to the readers. It added succinctly:

“Like a frog swimming in a pot being gradually heated up, the public has shown little consciousness of a deepening crisis.”

ribbet ribbet ribbet ........

And so to the sounds of gently boiled frogs, we hear from former Nanyang's executive director Kou Yok Ling, a veteran Chinese-language media practitioner for the past three decades. He has written a book titled '528 [May 28] Nanyang Bustle - An Eyewitness Account’.

He launched his book to commemorate five years since MCA’s takeover of Nanyang Press Holding – the publisher of key Chinese dailies Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press.

In his book, Kou revealed how the MCA had coopted a very powerful Malaysian politician (you work out who that was) to force former Nanyang owner Quek Leng Chan to divest his shares to MCA at below market value.

MCA’s strategy included the enlisting of a secret strategic partner to assist the management of Nanyang Press Holding - the secret partner would own about 45 percent of Nanyang's shares. The book identifies him as Tiong, the Sarawak timber tycoon.

The 300-page book discussed how MCA leaders was pissed off with the (former) editors of the two dailies under Nanyang Press Holdings, because the newspapers had reported the full dirt on MCA, for example, (1) the misappropriations of the MCA’s Chang Ming Tian Education Fund and (2) the factionalism between former party president Ling Liong Sik and his deputy, Lim Ah Lek.

Kao said the MCA whispered to Dr Mahathir that the two dailies were anti-government, and their reportings had resulted in the BN's defeat in the 2001 Lunas state seat by-election in Kedah. The MCA had accused both dailies of playing up UMNO Youth's threats against election appeals committee Suqiu.

The MCA argued that the issues brought up by the two dailies had resulted in a dramatic swing against the government among Chinese voters, and thus handed the seat to the opposition on a silver platter.

The MCA's tell-tale to Mahathir about its alleged anti-government articles sounded the death knell for an independent Nanyang in Boleh Land.

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