(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Malaysians are surprised at the news report yesterday that the Prime Ministerís press secretary Mohd Hashim Makaruddin has been appointed special assistant to the Prime Minister with immediate effect.
The surprise is not about Hashimís promotion but that he is at the same time concurrent editor-in-chief of Bernama, the national news agency.
Is it proper for the Prime Ministerís Special Assistant to be the concurrent editor-in-chief of Bernama, which can only send out the message that the national news agency is under the thumb of the Prime Ministerís Office, with all the undesirable connotations of mass media interference and regulation?
I understand that Hashim has been the concurrent editor-in-chief of Bernama for the past three years at the same time as he was press secretary to the Prime Minister. This improper nexus of Hashim as the Prime Ministerís right-hand man as well as the editorial chief of Bernama should be be terminated, and it is most surprising that this anomalous arrangement had been going on for over ten years.
In pointing out this anomaly, no blame or insinuation is attributed to Hashim who had been seconded from Bernama in the mid-eighties to be the press secretary to the then Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin.
However, it is only right and proper that such an anomaly be ended for three reasons: