When chilling fiction meets fact in Malaysian journalism

TheSun columnist Terence Fernandez made a timely observation yesterday regarding the state of Malaysian journalism in the country, an assessment that should concern not only Malaysian journalists but also other concerned Malaysians who cherish press freedom AND responsibility, and justice.

The piece, appropriately titled, ‘Incitement is not press freedom’, is well-intentioned as it expressed concern for journalistic ethics and standards that Malaysian journalistic fraternity should uphold and guard jealously.

Fernandez focused on a short story in Mingguan Malaysia that was penned by a seasoned media practitioner, Chamil Wariya. The story chillingly ‘draws parallels between the main character… and a very real and sitting Member of Parliament’.

The columnist further said: ‘He (i.e. Chamil) wrote about a fictional controversial Member of Parliament who meets her end at the hand of an assassin. The events leading to her murder is eye-brow-raising similar to those experienced by the real MP. The similarities are too uncanny not to be deliberate. If anyone denies this, it is just a pitiable and cowardly attempt to hide from the truth.’

If, as asserted by Fernandez, the fiction does have that provocative element, then Malaysian journalists and concerned Malaysian have cause for concern, and this is especially so when the writer of that fiction, as also pointed out by Fernandez, is also the man heading an important institution, i.e. Malaysian Press Institute (MPI), that supposedly teaches the country’s journalists the do’s and don’ts and the rights and wrongs of journalism — and confer awards for ‘good journalism’.

It is hoped that Fernandez’s commentary (and similar observations by others) would trigger off intelligent and civilised discussions in the media and among journalists and others who care for high standards of journalism and journalistic freedom and responsibility.

I am sure this kind of journalistic analysis would not excite people to the extent that a police report would be lodged against Fernandez by a band of people for, say, supposedly smearing the good name of a particular ethnic community.


8 Responses to “When chilling fiction meets fact in Malaysian journalism”

  1. 1 John 18 October 2008 at 10:13 am

    I think the govt should throw the Chamil fella into the slammer. His article (apparently) incites people to murder whereas a Suaram activist can be thrown to jail for fighting for the rights of fellow Malaysians. What kind of a stupid govt is this?

  2. 2 sinewy 18 October 2008 at 10:34 am

    Why not this Chamil write a fiction about the arrogance, corruption and downfall of a ruling party and see what he will get out of it from the ruling party of the malaysian government.

  3. 3 alrawa 18 October 2008 at 10:44 am

    What kind of a stupid govt is this?
    The kind that has stupid rakyat! Not many seems to be concerned about the attendance of MPs in the recent sitting of parliament(this is fact)but howled at the fiction of a ‘cerpen’.

  4. 4 104East 18 October 2008 at 11:52 am

    I thought a journalist should report and uphold the truth. This chamil guy is shooting himself in the foot. Only fools will believe in his reports now, no matter how true. He has lost his credibilty and should now just concentrate on writing fiction, bed time stories and fairy tales. Let us just boycott and ignore MM. I urge the ppl to which these columns, poems were targeting to just stop responding. Let these MM clowns carry on with their campaign of shooting into the air and keep making a fool of themselves.

  5. 5 Joe Rakyat 18 October 2008 at 12:40 pm

    If the people remain afraid and silent, then those in power will continue to do what they like. Beware, forces at work that might create another May 13… The mode of operation is also too familiar… we know who’s behind the current racial polarisation.



  6. 6 matsalleh_celup 18 October 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Do you guys read the original piece written by Mr. Wariya? I don’t think any of here(incl. Mr.K.A Anwar) has read the original piece written by Chamil Wariya. Go check, whether you opinion would remain the same if some `creative’ writers wrote a fiction against some government leaders, ending the stories with their head being chopped off. I’m sure you reaction would be – it’s a creative piece!

  7. 7 Antares 18 October 2008 at 4:49 pm

    When certain factions picketed the classic Monty Python movie, ‘Life of Brian,’ a savvy film critic defended the satirical masterpiece by stating that the film wasn’t poking fun at religion, just human stupidity. Similarly, when I read about individuals like Chamil Wariya and the political party that owns Utusan Malaysia, I must remind myself
    that I have never been against any ethnic community – only the idiotic jingoism that tragically accompanies ethnic arrogance born of deep-rooted insecurity.

  8. 8 amoker 18 October 2008 at 6:49 pm

    I congratulate Terence and the Sun for publishing his article and after reading his, I felt that there is still hope for this country. Reading Chamil’s article and thot that it just scraped the bottom of the barrel. I do not think that anybody should defend this as a creative piece. The other Datuk’s piece in calling Kok a dog is ‘uncouth’, but i will agree that it is his writing. Why these Datuks behave like that?

    The truth is that they are soiling the very race and religion that they are protecting. I will quote Chamil’s piece the next time someone say that Islam does not condone violence. See how it backfires?

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