(CPI) Yesterday, TV2 producer Chou Z Lam issued a statement that the third part of his Mandarin documentary on the Bakun Dam was forced off the air under the direct instruction of RTM director-general Ibrahim Yahaya.
When contacted by Malaysiakini, Ibrahim denied that he had ordered the cancellation of Wednesday’s segment. “I did not give such orders [...] you should ask Chou instead,” Ibrahim was quoted as saying.
Be that as it may, there is still the poser as to why the fourth episode scheduled for today, Thursday, 12.20pm under the programme slot ‘National Gallery Mandarin’ was not shown. Unless a clarification is forthcoming from RTM, the question mark remains.
In the meantime, the public will be forgiven for construing that the axing of the rest of Chou’s 10-part series* is yet another example of interference by Umno apparatchik deeply embedded in the civil service and strategic public agencies.
Chou has stated that when he approached his supervisors and several RTM officers for an explanation, he was told by newsroom chief executive Jumat Engson (see chart of RTM Who’s Who) that the decision was due to some “sensitive elements” in the documentary.
It was also intimated to Chou that its screening was deemed possibly ‘harmful’ to the upcoming Sibu by-election as well as the Sarawak state election which is on the cards. He was made to understand that the documentary might be postponed to ‘another time’ when the political situation permitted.
Chou said he personally appealed to Deputy Minister of Information, Communication and Culture Heng Seai Kie for help in resolving the matter but was told that “we would not interfere with your internal matter”. Chou said this response was communicated to him through the deputy minister’s private secretary, a Mr Lee.
Heng is a senator from MCA and her response is, predictably, indicative of the party’s lack of spine on genuine independence of the press. After all, MCA is owner of the spineless Star.
All these developments point clearly to the fact that it is the political masters controlling the media outlets that dictate the agenda. They are abetted by compliant editors who tread on eggshells in practicing self-censorship on the pretext of ‘preserving national harmony’.