Commentary Politics

Dear press aides, stop being entitled jerks

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Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

February 24, 2019

A commentary by Zaidi Azmi

THE press aide who cried wolf over a so-called media sabotage by national broadcaster, Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) – that turned out to be, of course, untrue – has apologised, albeit in a rather snarky tone.

It was so in the sense that instead of penning a simple sorry over his February 17 hissyfit, Lim Swee Kuan had chosen to seemingly sprinkle a dash of ‘kiasu-ness’ in his apology to RTM.

“Knowing now that RTM was merely following its SOP (standard operating procedure) in showing only the Prime Minister’s speech during the live telecast of the CNY (Chinese New Year) celebration in Seremban, I wish to apologise for my Facebook post dated Feb 17, 2019.

“I support media independence and media freedom and would love that one day RTM can be truly transformed into high quality, professional public broadcaster,” read Lim’s Facebook post today.

Is it me or did Lim – who issued a heads-must-roll threat – just threw a veiled shade at RTM by suggesting that it is not yet a high quality and professional broadcaster?

While RTM’s professionalism is debatable, the fact that Lim decided to bring it up immediately after saying he was sorry is rather eyebrow-raising. If he were, indeed, truly sincere, the first paragraph should have sufficed.

There is a reason why the Press, usually, keep things short and simple. Everyone knows the longer one writes the more mistakes one is prone to make.

Also, the fact that Lim needed an explanation from Multimedia and Communications Minister Gobind Singh Deo in order to get an insight over RTM’s SOP is just absurd. Why? Because he’s a press secretary, that’s why.

Surely knowing how the press operate is a prerequisite to be a press aide right? Otherwise, what’s the difference between a press secretary and an overpaid usher?

And even if Lim doesn’t know the workings of RTM, why can’t he just call and ask the journalist who covered the event instead of throwing a tantrum on social media?

Here’s a foolproof script on how to ask a journalist without sounding like an entitled jerk: “Hi there, is this {insert journalist’s name}. So sorry to bother you but I just want to ask, why didn’t my boss’ speech make the cut?”

There, was that so hard?

Be that as it may, Lim’s obliviousness – and suspicion- over RTM was understandable as this was the first time Pakatan Harapan (PH) managed to form government. What was mind-blowing was veteran-journalist-turned-politician Datuk Seri Abdul Kadir Jasin’s take on the issue.

“I do not see the statement (Lim’s) as violating the principle of media freedom which the PH government had been championing,” said Kadir – who was also the group editor-in-chief of NSTP Bhd – in a February 19 report by Berita Harian.

I see. So basically, Kadir is okay with press aides issuing heads-must-roll threats to the press.

Ah, now I know why the NST recently wrote that it “may have had a dark period in the past.”

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About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at [email protected]