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Dear CNN,

Let me tell you how I came to know you. I have known you for 25 years; I came to know you by the book of Tom Peters, ‘Liberation Management’, in which it revealed that there was a 30-minute, nine-bureau online meeting in the early morning that defined Cable News Network’s (CNN) each day’s programme. I was intrigued.

Then , around the year 2000, I had the good fortune of subscribing to Astro, a Malaysian direct broadcast satellite (DBS) pay TV service. Watching CNN, I have to say, had broadened my horizons. News anchors like Richard Quest, Paula Hancocks, Anderson Cooper, Kristie Lu Stout and Christiane Amanpour really had the gift of the gab and captured my imagination.

I marvelled at the mellifluous and melodious accents of your news anchors. How wonderful! How perfectly scripted! How Natural! I became a fan of yours.

Lately, sad to say, CNN has been beset with the unwholesome claims by the newly-inaugurated firebrand US President, Donald Trump, as a legitimate fake news organisation. My jaw dropped when I saw that your venerable news anchor, Jim Acosta, was denied access to President Trump during a press conference and was told, “You are fake news!”

I can understand the ignominy of being labelled “fake news”. What CNN can do is being more objective, rather than being, more subjective, in its news reporting.

Recently, I have been thrilled to hear that CNN has labelled the pandan cake as one of the favourite cakes of the world. And Zoe Li and Maggie Hiufu Wong wrote that the origin of the pandan cake is shared by Malaysia and Singapore.

I love the delightful description, “The radioactive hue of this cake belies its natural woodsy flavour.”

Well, it’s a noble idea to receive such an accolade.

However, The Straits Times sensationalised the news by claiming CNN had named the pandan cake as the national cake of Singapore.

This has created a firestorm of controversy.

A number of disgruntled Malaysians screamed, shouted, and slammed the decision. They said that Malaysia deserves more.

“We cannot let it become Singapore national cake,” one said on social media.

A selection of protests

Below are some of the protests from social media without any grammatical corrections:

“pls vote no!how cld always good food will reward to singapore, it is from malaysia our nenek home cook!” Another person protested vehemently.

One guy put forward a brilliant idea, “We can counter propose to CNN, pondan cake award to Singapore.”

“Please vote no. Pandan cake is share among Indonesian , Malaysian and Singapore. Its cannot only Singapore. Please vote No.” One was trying to rally his friends and followers.

One quipped, ”Malaysia banyak kek lagi... Macam macam.” (Malaysia has a variety of cakes... all kinds of cakes.)

“Yes. We never said this is ‘our’ cake. However , CNN want to award pandan cake to Singapore. It is not right.” Another articulated his thoughts with strong conviction.

During my childhood, pandan cake was a staple at any party. The cake has become part and parcel of Malaysians’ lives. We have fostered a robust emotional bond with pandan cake. Nevertheless, Malaysians, in general, have never proclaimed that pandan cake is their national cake.

According to Wikipedia, “Pandan cake is a light, fluffy, green-colored sponge cake of South-East Asian origin... It is also known as pandan chiffon. The cake is popular in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, China, and also the Netherlands...”

CNN has failed to grasp and trace the origin of pandan cake by naming pandan cake as exclusive to Singapore and Malaysia.

CNN cannot become the Big Brother by simply associating a cake with one nation or two. This is subjective news reporting and tantamount to “fake news”.

This has created a tempest of discontent and dissatisfaction among Malaysians. CNN never understood the sentiments in Malaysia.

As one online news website stated, “News outlets like CNN and ABC News might have the biggest audiences, but they’re not the most trusted across-the-board in America.”

Already, CNN has been awarded tbe dubious distinction by President Trump as a “fake news outlet”.

I hope CNN wouldn’t be hated by many fellow Malaysians for this subjective news reporting.


Chong Beng Lim@ChongBeng

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