RTM should telecast Tunku’s legacy message to Barisan Nasional leaders and Malaysians on his 80th birthday not to turn Malaysia into an Islamic State
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Thursday): My media statement of November 27 decrying the promotion of Datuk Zainuddin Maidin from parliamentary secretary to deputy information minister as a great waste of public funds especially as the Information Ministry does not deserve two deputy ministers, which ranks among the dozen less important ministries whether in terms of functions or annual budgetary allocations, elicited a very swift response.
In 48 hours, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad announced the switch of the long-serving deputy information minister, Datuk Khalid Yunus to the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development, leaving Zainuddin as the sole Deputy Information Minister.
No one was more relieved than Khalid to be taken out of the Information Ministry, as in the past 22 months he was only deputy minister in name while it was Zainuddin, who was formerly his boss in the Utusan Malaysia Group, who was exercising the real powers in the Ministry although only parliamentary secretary in name.
It is most regrettable however that there had been no satisfactory accounting for Zainuddin’s irresponsible misuse of government resources and abuse of power, as in producing the biased, tendentious and malicious propaganda features against the Opposition and independent-minded NGOs, like the recent Barisan Nasional propaganda feature “Bahaya Cauvinisme” camouflaged as prime-time news over public television in a below-the-belt attack on DAP and Dong Jiao Zong, falsely painting them as anti-national, unpatriotic and anti-Malay.
Zainuddin told the Senate last week about the RTM’s programme to telecast daily excerpts from the writings of the first Prime Minister and Bapa Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman on social issues, religion and politics from his books Looking Back and Lest We Forget on the various evening news.
In the Singapore Straits Times report titled, “Malaysia mines the past for future harmony” on the RTM programme telecasting Tunku’s words of wisdom every evening into the living room of Malaysians, Zainuddin said: “We are moving too fast that we have forgotten some basic principles of Malaysia. Most important is the idea of moderation”.
One of the biggest problems facing the country is that top government leaders, all the way to the Cabinet, have forgotten Tunku’s advice and admonitions about the importance of moderation in plural Malaysia. In fact, some top government leaders have even forgotten the fundamental constitutional and nation-building principles which constituted the 1957 Merdeka “social contract” of the forefathers of the major communities in the country.
For instance, RTM should telecast Tunku’s legacy message to Barisan Nasional leaders and Malaysians on his 80th birthday not to turn Malaysia into an Islamic State – a message doubly significant as it was made at the grand dinner hosted by Barisan Nasional on Feb. 8, 1983 and attended by all the top BN leaders, including Mahathir and his Cabinet.
If the Barisan Nasional leaders had not forgotten the basic principles of Malaysian nation-building, then the “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State would not have been made by Mahathir at the Gerakan national delegates conference on Sept. 29 last year and leaders from the Barisan Nasional component parties would not have blindly competed to express support.
Now that he has become the de facto Minister for RTM, Zainuddin should ensure that public television give a special premium to accurate information and adopt as a matter of policy the ethical rule to correct all incorrect and misleading information on its news and feature programmes.
The second segment of the RTM propaganda feature “Bahaya Cauvinisme” carried an excerpt of the Prime Minister’s speech at the National Patriotism Congress where he said there is no assimilation in Malaysia, unlike the United States and Western countries which he said practice assimilation where “Sekurang kurang nya, your home language must be that language”.
This is inaccurate and untrue. According to the 1990 US Bureau of Census, 12 years ago about one in seven people in the United States spoke a language other than English at home. The major non-English mother tongues spoken in the American homes as surveyed by the 1990 US Census were:
Ever since the 1990 US Census 12 years ago, the proportion of immigrants in the US population has grown further with a higher percentage of Americans who do not speak English at home.
There is a multitude of factually untrue or incorrect information and even downright misinformation on RTM. Will RTM be prepared to telecast corrections when these are drawn to its attention as in the case of 32 million out of 230 million Americans in 1990 who did not speak English at home, constituting one-seventh of the population? Or will Zainuddin set the new RTM rule that its news and programmes have no relationship with truth and accurate information whatsoever?
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman