A Reformasi Diary by Sabri Zain
|A brief (but helpful)
guide to reading the Malaysian Press
December 28th, 1998
Malaysian journalism has taken the skill of writing between the lines - saying something without actually saying it - to an art form. And Malaysians have always found that the best news is usually nestled reading between those lines.
Take, for example, reports in the local media last August that there was no rift between the Prime Minister and his Deputy. The PM was even willing to "kiss him on the street" to prove the point. Foreign visitors may have well thought "Oh, how nice" (though this kissing business would indeed have seemed a very risky proposition, considering the nature of the sexual accusations that were to emerge later). But being masters at reading between the lines, we Malaysians knew that meant that Anwar’s days were numbered and he’d be out in the street in a matter of days.
Reading this meek, docile ‘responsible’ journalism
that we Malaysians have come to know and love is a fine skill that is acquired
over years of brainwashing. It is something which needs a little getting
used to if you are a foreign visitor. We present below an actual news story
issued today by the national news agency BERNAMA, accompanied by a running
translation of what the lines actually mean, so our foreign visitors may
have some idea of the basic guidelines involved in ‘interpreting’ news
they might find in a local newspaper.
KL can now focus on economy, says Second Finance Minister
(Kelantan), DEC 28 1998 — Malaysia’s ability and success in tackling its
political crisis within a short period had strengthened the fundamentals
for an economic recovery next year, Second Finance Minister Datuk Mustapa
Mohamed said yesterday.
He said the country could now focus fully on efforts for
an economic recovery.
"We have successfully tackled the political crisis,
a major success in 1998 and important for us to face 1999 as we have laid
a firm foundation for economic recovery," he added.
Speaking to reporters after handing over dividends to
Felcra Bhd settlers here yesterday, Datuk Mustapa said Malaysians had shown
a maturity and gained invaluable experience in managing well during the
For next year, the minister said Malaysia would continue
with its existing financial policies of fiscal expansion and monetary easing.
Following the government’s success in tackling the political
and economic crises, he said Malaysians were confident the government would
administer the country well and effectively.
He called on people to remain united to ensure an economic
recovery and for the country’s image to be cleared following the negative
and misleading reporting by the foreign media. "It is a regret that
the much improved situation here has not received foreign-media coverage
unlike recently when some tourists even cancelled travel plans to Malaysia
based on the foreign-media reports," he said.