Take Responsibility, Rais!

By Tony Pua

TV1 last night reported in its 8pm prime-time news on the existence of “Murtads in Malaysia & Singapore” Facebook group. What is most despicable and sickening is TV1 highlighting the alleged association of DAP leaders such as Tan Kok Wai, Charles Santiago, Dr Boo Cheng Hau, Ean Yong Hian Wah with the Group. TV1 even placed the spotlight on the chairman of Parti Socialis Malaysia (PSM) and ADUN for Kota Damansara Dr Nasir Hashim insinuating the betrayal of his own faith.

The “news” report is obviously calculated to inflame sentiments and anger among Malays and Muslims in the country, especially towards Pakatan Rakyat whose leaders’ names were “found” to be part of the group.

The problem is those responsible in TV1 obviously did not bother to find the truth to the story but went ahead to make the baseless insinuations above. TV1 either were too ignorant to know, or did not want to know the fact that the “add to group” function in Facebook is such that you cannot prevent a group administrator from adding you to any group. There is no requirement to secure one’s permission or approval for adding a Facebook member to a Group.

Therefore all of the accused “supporters” of the Facebook page did not intend to, or never knew they had “joined” the Group. TV1 was completely unethical in its reporting by not first verifying the above information with the relevant people who were “implicated” by the Facebook page, especially since they were Pakatan Rakyat leaders who were easily accessible.

Hence instead of making a news report to cite the existence of the “Murtads in Malaysia & Singapore” Facebook page and criticising the administrators for wantonly adding Pakatan Rakyat leaders to the page and to cause anger among the people, TV1 chose to emphasize the supposed support shown by these leaders to the page. TV1 must be charged for making and disseminating false news to incite hatred among ordinary Malaysians.

The false TV1 news report follows closely another fake news aired by TV3 on 21 August which claimed the proselytization by a tuition centre in Old Klang Road after complaints by a non-existent “Surau Al-Musyrikin”.

It is absolutely clear that the above incendiary and seditious false news reports by the Government-owned and UMNO-associated media organisations are part of a systematic and orchestrated campaign to divide the people and retain power for Barisan Nasional in the next general elections. The desperation of the Najib administration is so deep that “to win at all cost”, BN is willing to not only spread false news, but also to use the highly-charged religious sentiments to tear the country apart.

We condemn the actions of the TV stations in the strongest possible terms and demand that the Minister of Information, Communications and Culture Dr Rais Yatim apologise on behalf of the TV stations for making false and seditious news reports. Dr Rais must also conduct an immediate investigation into the completely lack of professionalism in both TV1 and TV3 and insist that the responsible parties are removed from the posts.