Najib falls back to well-worn media strategy

by Oon Yeoh

Najib had indicated he wanted a freer media.

But his actions have proven otherwise. He has put in his man in Media Prima. And it looks like he’s doing the same at NSTP.

The Malaysian Insider, which is generally very critical of Najib, weighs in on these developments with a critical editorial: Umno reins in its media and a hard-hitting commentary: It’s beginning to look like Big Brother’s back.

Here’s an excerpt from the latter article, written by Leslie Lau (whom Jeff Ooi refers to as the Abdullah Era guy):

One of the most insulting and futile ideas which still exists today is the conviction that information can be controlled. Public relations companies thrive on that conviction because clients believe information can be managed. Governments also believe that… the thinking is that as long as the economy is strong people will be happy. On that score, perhaps one should check the box next to Singapore as well. And Malaysia too.

Good point. But Insider (which Rocky’s Bru refers to as an Italian-backed news site) shows its bias for the Pak Lah administration in the former article. See this telling (and misleading) quote:

During the Abdullah years, the media were given more space to criticise government policies and debate contentious issues.

But is that really true? Ask news media industry people and they will tell you the Pak Lah administration was no friend of the media. Like Mahathir before him, and like what Najib is doing now, Pak Lah put in his men in the key news organizations that Umno controls.

It’s said that Najib has a hotshot team of (foreign and local) advisors who have mapped out a strategy to shock and awe Malaysians with his reforms within the first 100 days.

Najib has initiated some good reforms in liberalizing the services sector but his media strategy is neither shocking (in fact it’s so damn predictable) nor awe-inducing (rolling -of-eyes -inducing is more like it).

If he wants to really make an impression with the rakyat, he would do well to seriously consider the Centre for Independent Journalism’s and Writers’ Alliance for Media Independence’s proposed road map. But of course he won’t.

Incidentally, the other day I got a message from Jacqueline Ann Surin editor of The Nut Graph saying that they have been barred from covering the May 7 assembly in Perak. I replied that we too (i.e. The Edge Malaysia) have been barred.

So much for a freer media.