Amidst grave concerns, some still create hoax

Stephen Ng

Modified 16 Jul 2015, 10:45 am

COMMENT News about a fake NGO known as Citizens for Accountable Governance Malaysia (CAGM) fabricating a fictitious banker’s statutory declaration has left me totally flabbergasted.

Contrary to its claim, I find it hard to understand how anyone would fake a statutory declaration (SD), or create a hoax just to poke fun at editors of Malaysiakini and other online news editors, unless its main objective is to protect one man from being forced to step down.

While Malaysians are genuinely concerned about the current development in the country and trying to find out what on earth has happened behind the scene which led to various exposé involving 1MDB and the missing billions, the RM2.6 billion allegedly deposited into AmPrivate Bank accounts belonging to one Najib Abdul Razak and another RM2 million cash deposited into the account belonging to one Rosmah Mansor, there are people who are out there trying to cast doubts and destroy the credibility of the various sources of news, both local and international.

Casting doubts and confusing people on what to believe in the news appears to be the same strategy employed by various parties who are trying to defend Prime Minister Najib, Rosmah and the 1MDB since the exposé was first made by the The Wall Street Journal ( WSJ ).

The same approach and strategy was also used by one chief executive officer of CIMB Islamic Bank whose attempt to cast doubts on the documents cited by WSJ has resulted in him being ridiculed by both his superiors as well as the more discerning members of the public.

Shame on him, even Malaysiakini , having done its homework, has proven the CEO Badlishah Abdul Ghani wrong and ignorant, ending up that he had to admit that he was wrong after the Malaysiakini team revealed its own findings.

Malaysiakini and other portals have done their part to preserve the integrity of the news that they carry.

How media works

The fact remains that the perpetrators behind CAGM do not fully understand how the media works.

By trying to discredit the editors based on reports, they have failed to realise that news is dynamic, especially in the digital age.

What is written today may be revised tomorrow when there is more evidence surfacing to prove otherwise.

In short, this is the work of the more responsible media editors who will continuously update their reports based on the latest facts; readers should therefore keep abreast of the latest development.

CAGM’s so-called social experiment does not prove anything except their sheer ignorance of how media operates and their attempt to create doubt in the media reports.

A good example is when the World Trade Centre was hit on Sept 11, 2001. The media could only report the number of casualties at the time of writing.

This number would inevitably change as new figures were being released by the official sources.

It did not mean that both official sources and the media reporting the figures were lying; instead, it simply meant that more dead bodies were being accounted for.

On hindsight, we know how the WTC was attacked.

However, within hours that it happened, everything was still sketchy when it was reported.

Journalists depended on the eye-witnesses as well as other sources for their news feeds.

No one would discredit the news for what it reported. On the same breath, there may be certain online news editors who decided to run the stories put up by CAGM.

In the case of Malaysiakini , when certain facts could not be verified, they decided to stop publishing the stories.

However, this does not mean that other online editors cannot publish a certain story first while waiting for the official response from the parties concerned.

A good example is when I was writing a complaint story for the Malay Mail regarding Telekom Malaysia back in the 1990s.

Its public relations manager then, Sharifah Ismail, was more of a bureaucrat than a good media relations person.

When numerous calls were made, she could either not be contacted or her staff would ask me to send them a fax.

Under such circumstances, we would not hold the story.

Brickbats would be thrown first with one qualifying statement which we conclude the story with: “Telekom Malaysia’s public relations officer Sharifah Ismail could not be reached

for comments.”

If we had waited for an official response from Sharifah, we would not be able to carry the story until two months later when her reply finally found its way through the snail mail.

This is what happens when certain articles are published first, followed by subsequent articles to update readers with the latest response from the parties concerned.

There are occasions when certain articles have to be retracted when the stories are found to be unfounded.

A responsible editor would rather preserve the integrity of the news media instead of keep denying that they made mistakes; however, in the case of WSJ, they may have very good reasons to maintain that they were right in what they exposed.

To accuse WSJ of trying to plot an ouster for Najib is simply too far-fetched because the newspaper does not concentrate its attention only one country or its leaders.

Any news about Malaysia is only reported as part of the bigger region called ‘Asia’ where WSJ is concerned.

In my opinion, CAGM’s intentions appear to be merely trying to confuse people on what to believe and what not to believe what they read in the news.

Like several other attempts by other individuals or groups to say the documents released by both WSJ and Sarawak Report are all forged, CAGM’s public relations spin has raised the red card.

It is most despicable of the perpetrators behind the CAGM to create such pranks, and since AmBank Berhad’s name has been dragged in, the bank’s management should see it fit to track the hidden faces and prosecute them.

To be honest, I am not amused by such pranks played by individuals or groups, whether paid or volunteers, who are, either just trying to poke fun at editors and the readers, or they are simply attempting to disprove everything that is being exposed by the media.

They may not come forward to reveal their identity or even if they do, they will not tell us their true intentions but merely to cast doubts on the veracity of materials published online.

Attempt to confuse and discredit

Other perpetrators have tried to discredit online sources of information such as Wikipedia , but its editors have put up a strong statement: “Please do not attempt to put misinformation into Wikipedia to test our ability to detect and remove it. This has been done before, with varying results. Most hoaxes are marked for deletion within a few hours of being created.”

According to Wikipedia editors, such misinformation can “mislead readers, causing them to make errors with real consequences, including hurt feelings, public embarrassment, reprints of books, lost points on school assignments, and other costs.”

Back to the 1MDB scandal, no amount of similar plots such as this one by the non-existent CAGM should be tolerated; instead, we are interested to find out more about this scandal on an on-going basis.

STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.

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