THE TELEPHONE HACKING SCANDAL II
By Dr Mahathir Mohamad
1. We are used to the high moral ground taken by the Western Press. We almost cringe mentally when they criticise us for our poor record on human rights, our alleged failure to respect the rule of law, our corruption and the injustices that we perpetrate against others etc. etc.
2. We feel they are right, that they, unlike us, have and they obey high ethical codes, that they are honest and straightforward.
3. It is shocking to find that they are really no better than us, that given half a chance they would cheat and abuse their positions, that they would forget human rights.
4. We know now that their Members of Parliament as reported by their Press use public funds to furnish their homes with chandeliers etc., that they claim excessive traveling allowances. We know that their Governments sell titles.
5. Now we are witnessing their most powerful media mogul admitting that the paper he owns, “News of the World” has been hacking telephones to listen in on private conversations and to use what they hear when reporting in their paper. Now we hear of bribes given to soften reports by journalists about all kinds of shenanigans by powerful people. And their politicians are just as afraid of the Press as we are.
6. Their MPs now have an opportunity to get back at the media through their debates and through calling up not just the media people but the Chief of the Metropolitan Police to face Parliamentary Select Committees.
7. I agree that the media should play a role to stop immorality on the part of public figures. They should be the watchdog overseeing the possible impropriety of Government practices and policies. But this should not include abuses of the rights accorded to them.
8. Many of the things the Western media reports in Malaysia are far from the truth. But once one of them says something bad about this country and its Government (and other countries too) others will repeat it without any attempt to verify the truth of the reports.
9. I was reported to have practiced cronyism; that I manipulated the judiciary, that I threw into jail my deputy by Western journalists who for one reason of another had taken a dislike for me. After that every journalist when reporting about Malaysia must mention that I had practised cronyism, manipulated the judiciary and threw my deputy into jail. For that matter every book written about Malaysia must include these items. The words of the first journalist who reported this must be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. No amount of refuting the allegations by anyone would be accepted.
10. That Western journalists have accepted bribes has long been suspected. But the reporting on the hacking by the News of the World has confirmed that Western journalists are not the purveyors of truth that they are supposed to be. They will deny of course. They will write nastier reports on those who criticise them. But the fact remains that they are as unprincipled and corrupt as the people they allege to have these failings.
11. I write this piece not because I expect the Western journalist to repent or change. They will not change, especially in their opinion of native leaders who thumb noses at the West. I write simply to draw attention to the fact that western journalists, with very few exceptions, are not the impartial purveyor of truth that people assume them to be.