Awang Selamat, the collective pen name for the Umno-owned Malay daily’s editors, said Malaysiakini should also apologise for articles that appear to support Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, street protests and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) lifestyle.
It also repeats all the allegations that have appeared over the years about Malaysiakini’s funding and directors, be they attributed to a former editor or an opinion by Dr Chandra Muzaffar, the one-time Aliran president who now heads the Yayasan 1 Malaysia, a government-linked foundation.
While opinions are a dime a dozen, Awang Selamat’s call to Malaysiakini to apologise is laughable.
Being anti-establishment is not a crime anywhere in the world, including Malaysia. But being divisive and racist is, something that Utusan Malaysia has been accused of in the recent past.
So, if anyone needs to apologise, should it not be Utusan Malaysia or Awang Selamat?
A court has already ruled that Utusan Malaysia was wrong in its reporting about Lim Guan Eng.
An Utusan editor has also admitted that writing or arranging news in favour of the government of the day is not a crime. Its reporting has driven a wedge among Malaysians on certain issues but it has remained recalcitrant about such matters.
Why pick on Malaysiakini, then? Again and again?
Malaysia is a country big enough to take a spectrum of views, be they pro- or anti-government. There is no need to persecute Malaysiakini just because it reports the way it does, or is financed by people from Malaysia or outside the country.
A newspaper is only relevant when readers want to read its reporting and news. Utusan Malaysia’s falling circulation is proof of its relevance, as is Malaysiakini’s popularity.
There must be space for all views ― be they from Utusan Malaysia or Malaysiakini ― as long as they are within the laws of the land.