The other day I was approached by The Star to comment on the issue of media coverage of politicians’ private lives in the light of Nurul Izzah’s personal situation. Can politicians really expect their private lives to be no-go areas?
I was assured in writing that the paper would be fair and my views would be published even if they were critical of the The Star.
Now, I couldn’t resist testing this assurance for what it was worth; so I sent in the following comments on 28 January (duly acknowledged on 29 January):
Public figures are in the public domain, but some personal family problems should be left alone, unless it involves public interest in the real sense.
In any case, the media in Malaysia must be fair. Have they subjected controversies involving BN leaders’ family problems to the same scrutiny?
Surely, there are other politicians from the BN who have family problems. Why is Nurul being singled out?
Okay, her personal situation may be mentioned in a brief report, but is there is a need to prolong the issue for a few days?
What about the expensive condos purchased by BN leaders’ family member(s) as well as their unexplained wealth? Has that been given much coverage in The Star?
Care must also be taken that party-owned newspapers don’t milk such personal issues for their owners’ political advantage, esp as Nurul is seen in some circles as future Pakatan leadership material.
The Star’s feature on the issue of privacy was published in the The Sunday Star today. It featured comments from Fahmi Fadzil, Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz, Tricia Yeoh, Yasmin Masidi, and Sonia Randhawa. But the critical bits of my comments above, marked in bold, were edited out. From this, you can clearly see The Star’s editorial stance.
This is quite unlike The Star. Whenever there is something critical happening in Penang which I sometimes highlight in my blog. I am occasionally approached by Star reporters for further comment. And when I do comment critically, like in the case of the Penang tunnel, The Star is happy to carry my views (apart from those critical of property developers!). In other instances, they may cite material from my blog.
But they rarely call me on issues of national importance. I feel sad and inadequate (tongue in cheek-lah!): I am just a ‘jaguh kampung’ whose critical views are only sought on Penang matters, when it suits the Star’s agenda. I suppose certain Star editors/journalists want to make use of me to score political points against the Penang state government – so that is why I tend to avoid them. Nothing personal – I just have no desire to be made use of.
To the Star’s editors and journalists, do you accept such double standards? I mean, think of the expensive properties recently purchased in the United States and the unexplained wealth of BN politicians’ family members. (My comments on these were edited out.) Why are you not probing further into this?
So has The Star really changed its stripes? You tell me.