(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The Malaysian media’s ignoring the 1998 Asiaweek ranking of Asia’s 50 most powerful leaders after the front-page treatment last year when Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was ranked as Asia’s second most powerful individual after Chinese head of state, Jian Zemin, highlights the problem of information deficit in the country.
This is another illustration why the Malaysian mass media have lost credibility, as time and again, it has been shown that the Malaysian mass media, both printed and electronic, do not report news independently and impartially but select what they deem as fit and appropriate for Malaysians to read or know about, in line with the likes and the dislikes of the powers-that-be.
In the Asiaweek’s second annual ranking last May of the 50 men and women who wield the most clout in the region, Suharto slided to the No. 3 spot from No. 1 ranking in 1996, while Mahathir, who was ranked No. 4 in 1996, was placed as the second most powerful individual last year for being "arguably the most prominent spokesman for Asia and the developing world."
In the third Asiaweek 1998 ranking in its latest issue, Mahathir has fallen to tenth position while Suharto had fallen out of the list after being ranked the most powerful leader in Asia only two short years ago.
In its ranking, Asiaweek commented that Mahathir"s "ill-advised verbal attacks on foreign investors and a bailout of his son's ailing shipping company have undermined his once-unassailable authority" and that "Challengers could surface if recession arrives".
The person who has been named as the most powerful individual in the region in the 1998 Asiaweek ranking is a person who has been described as follows:
Mass media which had put Asiaweek’s ranking of Mahathir last year as the second most powerful Asian on the front-pages owe a duty to Malaysians to report the latest Asiaweek ranking and comments on Mahathir - leaving to Malaysans to decide on their own whether to agree or otherwise.