The sound barrier “Thank you DR Mahathir. It’s marvellous to be able to hear my people again”,

Kumbhakarna, Ravana’s normally comatose brother, used to wake up once in a while, get into a frenzy of eating, slaying enemies of the state, eating and yet more eating, and then go back to sleep again. The sleep-frenzied activity-sleep cycle worked for Kumbhakarna. It is unlikely to work for Najib.These worthies would be well-advised, having come out of a long coma, to show wakeful activity over the remaining term of the present umno-barisan government. Here are a few things they could do, to maintain the momentum of the reforms they have initiated.

There was momentary discomfort, a loud “pop” like a cork being pulled from a bottle, and the world of sound came rushing in on him.  The doctor’s voice boomed. Mr Prime  Minister “Here’s what was causing the problem. Ear wax.  You should be all right now”. He said, “Thank you DR Mahathir.  It’s marvellous to be able to hear again”,

If we have to call a spade a spade, so be it in the defence of a beloved nation, its people and their Rulers who have always maintained ALL Malaysians as their loyal subjects.

It is completely insane. It is beyond all common sense. It is an absolute violation against humanity. When the prime minister of a nation screams and propagates racism on the multi-racial country’s national day celebration, what do we do?

Merely protest? Just sulk? Or run to his aid to protect and justify, shield and resurrect that leader?

In any other civilized, sensitive and mature society, by now such a leader would have abdicated his or her position and power owing to public outcry – as a result of decisive action taken by not just the common citizens but also by all wise and honorable politicians from all sides of the camp supported by leaders of the faithful, civil society leaders, professionals and even corporate captains.

Can you beat this – on Malaysia Day our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in his speech proclaimed that Malays must come together to avoid being defeated.

Treasonous words

It is a very serious proclamation. It hinges on treason against the nation of people and our revered Rulers to whom the multi-cultural and multi-religious and multi-racial people have always pledged their loyalty. It betrays the very fundamentals enshrined in our Constitution and destroys all principles in support of humanity.

Najib is not just splitting the nation along racial lines; he is destroying the very cord that binds us all to King and Nation. Not only that, he is just as dumb too to even entertain such a threatened call.

There are Malays in UMNO. So if he spoke so in an UMNO event as their President, it can be understood although it will not be devoid of suspicion and displeasure.

But when a prime minister of a multi-racial society speaks so on that nation’s National Day it cannot be dismissed; it cannot be taken with a pinch of salt; it should not be spared of decisive and fair action.

Not all Malays are UMNO MALAYS

Najib forgets that the Malays in this land are not all on UMNO’s sides. He has obliterated the fact that there are just as many Malays who are also in PAS, in PKR and even in DAP. So by raising alarm bells for the attention of all Malays he has committed a serious and dangerous offence.

That offence is tantamount (if not absolute) to racial incitement. Will the authorities who keep proclaiming that they are the fair guardians of law in this land now act decisively or will they slitter away? Will the legal minds that still have their hearts in the right place now congregate in one voice to defend the honor and dignity of this nation, i.e. justice? Or will they slip away under the musty sheet of “it’s none of my business?”

He has also grossly insulted the Malays. If the clear minded, able minded, and wise Malays do not take offence to this totally unacceptable call by the PM to one particular race that has also driven a deep wedge between the Malays of one nation, then we would have sunk so far low that there is no future for everyone here.

We would have sunk into the pits of animosity, divisiveness, exclusiveness and bitter enmity that in all probability would have erected the framework for a permanently failed nation.

It is a scary prospect, actively choosing an industry that everyone claims is crumbling.

There is no clear path to be a journalist or a writer. It is not like becoming a doctor, where you get into college, join the pre-med program, take the MCAT, go to medical school, and become a doctor. The journalism world cannot even come to a consensus on whether or not graduate school for journalism is a worthy investment. It is an equally scary prospect to go into an industry whose veterans each have different and contradictory answers to the question, “How do you succeed in this business?”

One piece of advice does stand out, though. On a trip with the university newspaper to theNew York Times building, Brian Stelter told our group of young reporters and editors to find something that nobody else was doing, or that nobody else was doing well, and do it the best. It was with this advice in mind that I decided to start La Jeune Politique.

There is something about journalism that keeps students intrigued and keeps young people flocking to school newspapers and unpaid writing internships instead of high-paying summer jobs at Goldman Sachs. If you ask these aspiring writers why they are pursuing an industry with a death sentence, most will answer, “Because it is not dying; it’s just changing.” They answer this way for two reasons: because we (I include myself in this group) truly believe it to be so, and because it had better be. If it is not, not only are our future livelihoods on the line, but so is the democratic world. We need journalists; there is a reason they call the media the fourth branch of government. It serves its own purpose in the system of checks and balances and gives people a voice.

The world needs journalists, but different kinds of journalists.

The realm of written reporting has caught on to one major trend of the future but has not quite figured out how to make it profitable: the Web. There is money to be made on the Web, but many journalistic institutions are struggling to make the switch. Meanwhile, others who were founded on the Web are finding new ways to make it work.

The second major trend is one that journalism powerhouses seem to be missing: globalization. Instead, it is going the opposite direction. Newspapers are abandoning the tradition of foreign correspondents. Only those publications covering financial news, or those magazines with extremely loyal and specific consumer bases, like The New Yorker, have the money to pay for correspondents abroad. Instead, while the distance across oceans has been minimized to the speed it takes to send an email, the world of journalism, trying to focus on an outdated business model, has turned inward. The focus has become increasingly local, perhaps with the idea that this is the way to expand a subscription base.

Although many things can be said about the new HBO show The Newsroom, it raises one question loud and clear: Should news have value outside ratings? The show centers around a team that takes on the ratings paradigm and aims to more legitimately cover political news and avoid the cliff of partisanism. However, the bigger issue may be one of scale. Now more than ever (not to say that news used to be the perfect industry, free from real hard business decisions), the content of the news is driven by what will sell to the masses.

This business model is over. This could be the death of print media as we know it. Instead of covering a few things well, major papers try to cover anything and everything that will bring them new subscribers, and in most cases they abandon covering what they used to do well.

International news coverage is pitiful in U.S. publications. We have never done international news well (a sad vestige of an isolationist mentality), but it has become dramatically worse over the last decade. We have pulled our writers from abroad and replaced them with the idea that we can just send reporters to crisis zones.

In the world of international journalism we have stopped looking for stories and started reacting to stories. This is ironic in an era when one country’s decisions can have a domino effect on states and businesses across the world.

A few students, French and American, decided to take on the task of bridging this gap. After the French presidential election was shamefully covered in American publications (The Economist does not count; it is British, and it is a weekly), a small group of American students studying in Paris decided it was high time to try changing the way the media covered international political news. We put together a team of French and American writers and started a website called La Jeune Politique, or, in English, “Young Politics.” We went out to cover the news in France in such a way that it could be accessible to English speakers. Why? In the words of The Newsroom‘s Sam Worthington, “because we decided to.”

The goal is to cover the EU in total. The EU is too important a player to be ignored except in times of crisis. As our major ally and economic partner, European political and economic news deserves our attention. Contrary to popular belief, it will affect you, too. The Atlantic Ocean does not stand as a buffer anymore.

The founding team of La Jeune Politique sees the changing world of journalism not as a death threat but as an opportunity. While the rest of the world is talking about the lack of jobs, this most dedicated team of young people has decided to create their own.

Why it`s a case of no apologies to I&B ministry’s Ambika Soni

Hell hath no fury like a woman defending a PM scorned. Just recently, Ambika Soni, information & broadcasting minister, breathed hell`s fire at the Washington Post. All because it ran that blasted write-up blasting Manmohan Singh as a silent “tragic figure”. Calling it a “baseless” piece of “yellow journalism”, Soni demanded an apology — or else. And here I thought “yellow journalism” means never having to say you`re sorry.

Last week the Government decided it was a good idea to talk to us citizens. Till now it has eavesdropped on our conversations, read our emails, intercepted chats, demanded it be allowed to disencrypt our BBMs. So, by now, one would have thought Big Brother knows everything worth knowing about you and me. Who we are. What we do. What we think. How we live. And, most important, what our political opinions are. Now two years before the 2014 elections it has decided to engage with us and begin a dialogue that could quietly become part of their political campaign.

So I got my first sms last week from the Ministry of Power inviting me, if I was in class 4, 5 or 6, to join a painting contest on the theme of energy conservation. Since I am not in class 4, 5 or 6, I ignored it as an innocuous error. But then, on the same day, my wife got the same sms. So did my daughters, and everyone in office, including my sullen peon Vijay who has never gone to school and, at 40, has no intention to. So did the lady who washes the dishes at home, the cook, the laundry guy, the garden help, the drivers, and the security guys from Bihar who, Raj Thackeray tells us, become matriculates without attending class. No, none of us were eligible for the contest. What’s even more curious, I got the same sms 18 times, my wife 13, and the rest 19 to 23 times. Whoever conceived this campaign was on an absurd overdrive. And for a cash-strapped Government, it looks like a pretty dumb thing to support. Not only has the Ministry wasted tax payer money spamming us, it has not done its homework to identify the target group for engagement. Worse, it has broken the law since many of us have DND on our phones.

Next day, I got another sms. This time, from the Finance Ministry inviting me to design a mascot for the Income Tax Department. Luckily there were no qualifying clauses this time. So all of us who got it were, strictly speaking, eligible to join the contest though I doubt whether my cook or my driver would know what a mascot is and how to design one. But everyone knows what income tax is and since the prize was a tempting Rs 1 lakh (which may not look all that alluring after all the tax deductions kick in) everyone in office stopped work to focus on sketching blood sucking vampires, snarling werewolves, menacing looking demons of all kinds who they thought would be apt mascots. Someone even came and asked me if Kansa would be the right mascot since income tax targets you from birth itself.

Yesterday came a new sms. After the Rs 5 per litre diesel price hike, I suddenly began being pursued by the Ministry of Health with messages urging me not to commit suicide. They obviously knew I drive a diesel SUV. But since there was no helpline listed for people preparing for suicide, this sms too was a waste. In any case, any helpline would have broken down by now with the number of people contemplating suicide ever since UPA2 came to power and gave us back breaking inflation for four successive years and taxed everything out of reach, including the tools of suicide. Everyone I go to for assisted suicide wants to now charge me service tax and VAT, and there are others who have asked for luxury and entertainment tax as well, claiming that suicide is now taxed as a spectacle sport. The funny thing is that the Government gives us every reason to commit suicide but makes it illegal.

So I am stuck, as usual. Maybe it’s best to follow Kapil Sibal’s advice and outlaw all communication. No emails. No Facebook. No twitter. No BBM. No sms. Lets ban them all before the Government begins to pop up everywhere to try and engage with us before the coming elections.

Soni put me, a true-blue yellow journalist, in a quandary. Must I be flattered at being elevated to the creamier ranks of scribes like the Post`s correspondent, fellows by no means yellow unless you mean jaundiced? Or should I demand an apology from Soni for dyeing my profession of noxious pen-pushing a whiter shade of peela?

Maybe an apology’s too much to expect from Soni. Or she`d have said sorry herself for heading that Emergency-era relic called Information & Broadcasting Ministry. That’s the kind of Big Brother body for which a media apology usually surrogates for choke and dagger. Call it the gift of the gag. But information browbeaters beware! This is an age when info — yellow-tinted or otherwise — gets broadcast and podcast even before politicians wake up and smell the coal coffee. And they usually do that after reading the scandal sheets.

Equally bizarre for Soni to have asked how a US daily could “publish something regarding the prime minister of another country”! We peela journalists take special pride in churning out rants against leaders of foreign countries, some baptised Mr 10 Per Cent, others exposed as wearing stilts to match their wives` height. Even Russia`s Putin has learned to live with post-KGB free expression. He now so welcomes healthy criticism that Pussy Rioters got only a couple of years in jail.

Sorry, lady. Opinion can`t always be Soni — or is it sunny? — side up. So, why insist that the whole world respect the “dignity” of the PM`s or anybody else`s office? Hiding behind the “dignity of office” usually signals indignity of pompous officiousness. Under these circumstances, methinks the lady doth protest too much. Why, methinks she shoots the messenger (journalism) while trying to shoot the passenger (yellow journalism).

Pray tell me, which yellow journalist worth his ochre would dub anyone a “tragic figure” however much the latter`s hands may have been tragically tied by reforms-averse Mamata-di or BJP? It`s just too anodyne and literary. Soni might think Singh is king. But in the tabloid trade sting is king: the poke must hurt. Note that, unlike Soni who seems more loyal than the king proclaimed Singh, Singh has a remarkable meditative detachment. He doesn`t say “ouch” to very much.

Recall Singh as finmin once suggesting he didn`t get insomnia over stock market scams. And consider the “silent” PM`s defence of silence, just after being silenced by the BJP when making a statement in parliament on Coalgate (which many Congress-wallahs pretended for some time was a toothpaste brand). “My silence,” said he, “is better than a thousand answers.” What a silencer — and at a time of hazaar pesky questions about policy freeze, price rise, corruption and other CAG-mires!

To hell with that scurrilous debate about who — Singh or Obama — is the bigger “underachiever”. Do you want the sensational truth, and I don`t mean sensational in the tabloid sense? It`s that the calm and composed PM stumps all of us genuine yellow-yellow dirty fellows. With growth southbound, inflation northbound and parliament recently paralysed, Singh was still the picture of equanimity. We spread yellow fever in malicious levity. A consummate levitator like him still didn`t get sleepless nights. That, we concede, is a true leadership trait. And look at what he`s gone and done now, silently — ended the policy freeze and blasted the reforms process wide open, so that growth can get moving again! So take that, Washington Post. And spare us this kolaveri, Soni-ji.

There was momentary discomfort, a loud “pop” like a cork being pulled from a bottle, and the world of sound came rushing in on him.  The doctor’s voice boomed.

“Here’s what was causing the problem. Ear wax.  You should be all right now”. He said, “Thank you.  It’s marvellous to be able to hear again”,

Najib Tun Razak made his fourth annual insulting appearance before the establishment media last Wednesday at the NPC press awards night, the second of two annual festivals of self-congratulation. (» Not a 9-5 job)

Keeping up his administration’s style, there was more bombast from the prime minister to provide a fine hand-polished gloss over the mean and vicious vindictiveness in his party and in the nomenclatura of his shambolic government and the party’s loyal cadre of right-wing attack dogs.

For the fourth year running, his speech at a press awards night dealt with the noblest principles and aims of journalism and free media — most of which, in practice, the establishment media either wilfully ignore or subvert, either on instruction or out of self-preservation.

Here are some typical quotes from his speech to the National Press Club:

The best journalism is bold, inquisitive and accountable; fearless in spirit and open in practice. That is the kind of journalism that we wish to encourage.

Bollocks, prime minister. Your government, your party, your filthy
cousin and your filthy apparatchiks ordered this filth

Empowering the media?

If we were to build a democracy that is truly responsive to the needs of all our people and not just some of them, we must empower the media, both old and new, to responsibly report what they see.

Bollocks, prime minister. Your filthy dogs empowered themselves.
And your gutless government told the press not to see and not to report

Report accurately?

I know that all of you here instinctively understand the responsibility to report what you see accurately, and to inform your audience without prejudice.

Bollocks, prime minister. Didn’t you condone this travesty of accuracy?

Victims of intimidation?

As a government, it is our responsibility to ask how do we ensure responsible online reporting, how do we ensure that people do not become victims of intimidation and cyber bullying and also how do we ensure that freedom coexists with respect?

Bollocks, prime minister. Your government routinely intimidates citizens

And your government’s dogs justify your party’s repression

Free, transparent media?

I have always said that I want the online space to be vibrant, just as I want a traditional media that is free, transparent and fair. That is why we introduced the Printing Presses and Publications Bill to further liberalise the media.

Bollocks, prime minister. Your laws protect owners and their money

Bold, fearless journalism?

Whatever the medium, journalism is an irreplaceable element of modern democracy. The best journalism is bold, inquisitive and accountable; fearless in spirit and open in practice. That is the kind of journalism that we wish to encourage.

Bollocks, prime minister. Your gutless party practises gutter journalism

Utusan editor says it's okay to lie?

Put your gutless government and your gutless party
where your mouth is, prime minister

Sure, it’s unfair to heap all blame on the prime minister: but the fine words coming out of his mouth twice a year at press awards nights are undone every day by the dirty work of others acting in his name or on his behalf or in his interests and in the name of his damned party. (Not counting the daily instructions from Her Hairness the Foist Lady.)

If the prime minister is to be taken seriously as head of the government, never mind head of his party which he obviously is not, then he has to put the fear of god and some backbone into his spineless government and give reality to the expensive words from his cheap speech-writers.

Or else be honest and admit that the speechifying is fiction and the filthy bullying tactics of his government and his party are the reality.

Spare us your damned piety.

Get your damned government and your damned party out of our way. Yes, especially your damned party’s apparatchiks, the damned nomenclatura of the KDN and police and military, and all the rest of the worms in your rotten establishment structure. Get out of our way so we can do our jobs, professionally and honestly.

Otherwise, bollocks to all your worthless words.

» The prime minister’s speech [NST] | » The press awards