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Saturday, December 08, 2007

When Spin goes into Overdrive

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With the Human Rights Day just a few days away, it's appearing as if Malaysia is being positioned as God's gift to democracy, and whose government just simply can't do any wrong.

First off, go take a look at the razor-sharp compilation done by buddy blogger Howsy on the kind of feel-good desperation spin we're seeing all of a sudden in the MSM (as in MainStream Media - not the other kind).

Sure, Hindraf's memorandum was terribly worded, and really over-the-top melodramatic - and no, there is no "ethnic cleansing" like in the Balkan states those years ago, or "genocide". But linking them to terrorist organizations? In effect, labelling them as terror threats.

Image hosting by PhotobucketJust about the only trustable English print rag these days...

The other MSM news outlets, too, have been going into overdrive with the terror linkage game, linking Hindraf to Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers and India's RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), according to our de fective facto Law Minister Nazri Aziz - as reported in The Star today (Walski won't even bother with dissecting what that idiot has to say).

There are, of course, lots more reports demonizing Hindraf, which Walski won't quote here - they shouldn't be too difficult to find though. Almost like shooting fish in a barrel.

And not only in the print media, but on the Internet as well - a new Hindraf watchdog site has sprung up in the wake of the November 25 Hindraf rally. Who's behind this site is anyone's guess, really, but the way some of the verbiage is written seems familiar...
(the watchdog site, and why the demonizing, in the full post)

The site, named Hindraf Watch, was first spotted by Walski yesterday while searching for some news sources online. This site, like the growing general public opinion fueled by the powers that be, has pretty much labelled Hindraf as a terrorist organization. From the site's About page (emphasis by myAsylum):

Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) is a Hindu-extremist, racially-inclined terrorist coalition which have been sowing discord and inciting racial and religious hatred amongst the Indian Malaysian community through speeches, memorandums and rallies by its leaders and organised by this racist group. We register our concern as loyal Malaysians that this coalition have been making false and baseless accusations about the realities of this country, in particular the situation of ethnic Indian Malaysians who are neither subjected to “ethnic cleansing” as alleged in their memo, nor are they prevented from practicing their religious and cultural activities in peace and freedom.

As of late, we note that the recent activities of HINDRAF have been increasingly belligerent and subversive, bordering on being detriminal to Malaysian national security. Thus, the existence of this website. We at Hindraf Watch aim to expose the underlying motives of this illegal grouping who hide behind the notions of “human rights” and “freedom of expression”, when their real motives are to bring about a second May 13th 1969 and to jeopardise the harmonious situation of this country into political instability and chaos.

Pretty serious accusations, if you were to ask Walski. But very much in tune with efforts by the government in trying to silence civil protests, and denying the democratic right to peaceful assembly. The Hindraf rally, had it not been for the police action that took place, with the water cannons and tear gas, would probably not have been as violent as it became.

And then, this new coalition of "civil society NGOs" that go by the monicker Damai Malaysia, as reported in Bernama a couple of days ago.

Almost 400 non- governmental organisations (NGO), representing various races from throughout the country, gathered at the Sultan Sulaiman Club in Kampung Baru here to condemn street demonstrations that could disrupt order.

The 395 NGOs described certain quarters as being insolent when they accused the government of ethnic cleansing when in fact, all races are treated fairly.

Over 600 NGO leaders who called themselves the "Damai Malaysia" (Peace Malaysia) movement, gathered for over three hours before coming up with a joint statement on their strong stand against street demonstrations, to be handed over to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Damai Malaysia coordinating secretary, Mohd Nardin Awang said the movement wished to remind all that the right of expression, as provided for under the Federal Constitution, should be exercised in accordance with the law and through permissible channels, and not through illegal demonstrations.

"The gathering today is to voice out the wish of the people who want peace and are against street demonstrations which have created many problems for the nation," he told reporters.

Sneaky... subtle tie-in of Hindraf with whomever else has rallied publicly to voice their feelings.

So, who is Damai Malaysia, really? And for whom do they speak? The answer to that comes via two other online sources that Walski came across. The first, via the Malay-centric website, provides anecdotal evidence as to who is really behind the coalition. The following is an excerpt:

" ...nombor telefon yang diberikan oleh rakan saya tadi (03-40439948) telah menghubungkan saya kepada pejabat Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjong (GPMS) yang terletak di Sentul Raya, KL, tetapi operatornya memperkenalkan diri sebagai 'Damai Malaysia' "

" ...the number given by my friend just now (03-40439948) connected me to the office of the Peninsular Malay Students Coalition (better known as GPMS), located in Sentul Raya, KL, but its operator answered the call as 'Damai Malaysia' "

GPMS's current president is Datuk Reezal Merican Naina Merican. If the name sounds familiar, it's because he also happens to be the Political Secretary to none other than our Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Prime Minister of Malaysia. Nice coincidence, eh?

The second source that Walski came across, an interview by Radio Singapore International (RSI) with KL-based think tank Research for Social Advancement's Executive Director, Liew Chin Tong, who pretty much spilled the beans on the people behind Damai Malaysia (emphasis by myAsylum).

Who are the people who have created this new group, Damai Malaysia?

Liew Chin Tong: It’s mainly initiated by UMNO and MCA politicians in Kuala Lumpur. The Malaysian Chinese Association (which is the second largest ruling party in the coalition) has a candidate in Bukit Bintang which is the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Datuk Lee Chung Meng was one of the key people behind this group. It’s mainly a coalition of mostly pro-government groups and they held a forum to denounce street demonstrations without specifically mentioning names, but mostly likely in response to Hindraf as well as the Bersih coalition gathering on November 10th. I don’t see this as a major group. I think it is just to say that there are people who are unhappy about street demonstrations period.
(source: Radio Singapore International)

Kinda puts a different perspective on things NGO-related, doesn't it? For most people, the term "NGO" gives the impression of being independent of the government and of the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional. Which clearly is not the case here.

So, can "Damai Malaysia" really be representing the true sentiments of grassroots Malaysians, or only of those with vested interests in keeping things status quo, warts and all? Enquiring minds really wanna know...

But back to the spin around Hindraf.

Today, posted an interesting news report, which hints at the real reason behind the recent terror-link spinning: that preparatory works are being done to invoke the ISA on Hindraf's key leaders.

The authorities appeared to be laying the groundwork to invoke the Internal Security Act against key leaders in Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), ex-ISA detainees said.

This came after Inspector General-of-Police Musa Hassan accused the group, which led a rare mass protest of 30,000 Indian Malaysians on Nov 25, of having connections with terrorists.

Saari Sungib, who was held under the notorious Internal Security Act (ISA) in 2001 with nine others reformasi activists, said the current signs were similar to those before the arrest of his group six years ago.

“They accused us of using molotov cocktails, grenade launchers and that we had links with terror groups to topple the government,” he said in reference to why they were detained then under the ISA, which allows for detention without trial.

The claim - not proven to date - was then vehemently rejected by the group, which was actively involved in the free Anwar Ibrahim campaign launched after the latter’s sacking as the deputy premier.

Simple strategy, really. Make a link - real or imagined - between Hindraf and terrorism groups (which doesn't ever have to be proven), then garner "public opinion" on your side by roping in so-called "representative voices of civil society" (in this case Damai Malaysia) to speak against public rallies and auto-associating these with shows of violence, use the power of the MSM to instill some FUD (Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt) into the public, whom unfortunately take in most of what the MSM has to say hook, line, and sinker... then WHAMMO!

Hello ISA.

In the meantime, use whatever excuse and means available to discredit the non-mainstream news sources, and sprinkle some intimidative flavoring (like the questioning of Jeff Ooi - via - over his statements during the Al Jazeera report on the Bersih rally). Today, a police report was filed by RTM on Malaysiakini, accusing the latter of publishing false news pertaining to the recent dismissal of the Tamil radio announcers.

All the pieces to this wicked, uncivil and devious jigsaw puzzle are starting to fall into place...

Tomorrow, the Bar Council organized celebrations of the world Human Rights Day will proceed as planned, albeit with a change of venue (from Central Market, originally, to the Bar Council's own premises). But with all that is currently going on, somehow Walski has lost sight of what exactly there is to celebrate anymore.

And if there weren't enough hints of a crackdown - a big time one - how's this for a thinly-veiled threat? It's what AAB was reported to have said, via The Star today:

The Government has been kind and considerate towards the people for the past 50 years. It will continue to do so for as long as the people give their support to the Barisan Nasional
(source: The Star)

In other words, support BN... or else. Faux pas, Freudian slip or fearsome foreboding? Call him a cynic, but all of a sudden, for Walski, December 10th has totally lost whatever meaning it is supposed to have...