Accused of being biased, CNA welcomes opportunity to interview Umno minister

Salleh Said Keruak

(Malay Mail Online) – Disagreeing with Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak’s claim that its political documentary on Malaysia had been “one-sided”, Singapore-based Channel News Asia (CNA) said it would be happy to interview the senior Umno minister on his country’s affairs.

In a statement posted on its website yesterday, executive producer of CNA’s Insight, Zainudin Afandi pointed out to the minister that its documentary titled A Fractured Nation had not featured any interview with members of the opposition.

“Channel NewsAsia interviewed the organiser of Bersih 4.0, Maria Chin Abdullah, who is not a member of the opposition. We believe that her views provided Insight and balance to the story.

“The programme also interviewed the organiser of the Red Shirt rally, Umno Divisional Chief Mr Jamal Yunos. We also aired the views of the former Melaka Chief Minister and Umno Supreme Council member Ali Rustam,” Zainudin said.

The three political analysts interviewed for the half-hour programme aired Thursday night had spoken from an “objective and unbiased” standpoint, he added.

In the documentary, the three observers — Dr Maszlee Malik, assistant professor at the International Islamic University of Malaysia, Dr Ooi Kee Beng, deputy director of the Singapore-based Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) Yusof Ishak Institute and Ibrahim Suffian from local independent pollster Merdeka Center — had said that playing up racial sentiments for political support will not work in a languishing economy, after the pro-government #Merah169 demonstration in Malaysia last week saw racist insults hurled at the Chinese.

Zainudin also pointed out that Insight is a long-running and award-winning current affairs programme on CNA.

He said the channel prides itself on featuring objective insights, borne both from being in the region and being invested in the region.

“Nevertheless, Channel News Asia would welcome the opportunity to interview Dr Salleh Said Keruak on the situation in Malaysia, which has generated interest internationally.”

Yesterday, Salleh, who is Communications and Multimedia minister, accused CNA of airing what he described as a one-sided documentary on Malaysia that featured only members of the opposition and their supporters.

He claimed the channel only taken tips from opposition sources, which he said led to a negative portrayal of Malaysia’s image.

“Channel News Asia’s report on Malaysia Day is unfair, biased and regrettable, and should be rectified,” he said in a press statement.

The federal minister told CNA that it should have taken into account the views of all parties before putting out the documentary.

He also insisted that the programme’s apparent portrayal of Malaysia as a country burdened by problems was “not all true”.

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