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If we can do it, so can you

  • If we can put in so much effort for a more tolerant, liberal and moderate Malaysia, sure enough our minister can do the same. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

By TAY TIAN YAN
Sin Chew Daily

Defense minister Mohamad Sabu said Sin Chew Daily was like Utusan Malaysia, fond of fanning racial sentiments, whereby Utusan's target is the Malay community while Sin Chew targets the Chinese.

Within a short span of only a few weeks, this is the fourth such allegation made against Sin Chew from a senior government official.

While the Jawi and Zakir issues appear to have somewhat calmed down now, the undercurrents are building up with the apparent motive of picking on “troublemaking” press.

Sin Chew's position couldn't have been more explicitly explained.

I'm just curious, if a newspaper is not supposed to report the truth, how is it going to play its role effectively as Fourth Estate to oversee the government?

If a journalist is trying to conceal the truth from the readers, how can we answer to our readers?

All this aside, the fact that Mat Sabu has joined the growing list of government leaders slamming Sin Chew is itself a little surprising.

Four months ago, Mat Sabu visited Sin Chew in his capacity as the country's defense minster and president of Amanah.

During the meeting, our Editor-In-Chief Kuik Cheng Kang explained to the esteemed guest the newspaper's objectives and gave him a brief introduction to the newspaper's content.

Citing our daily column “Warm Power” (暖势力) and the weekly “We” (我们), Kuik highlighted Sin Chew's unbending commitment in promoting national unity and inter-community relationship.

“Warm Power” is a dedicated column that carries heart-warming stories discovered by our reporters from every nook and corner of this country, including those that involve individuals from different ethnic groups, which will open the eyes of our readers to the fact that indeed there is love in our society irrespective of race and religion.

As for “We”, it is a collection of stories that introduces our readers to the diverse cultures and religions of different ethnic communities in Malaysia in hope of promoting mutual understanding and goodwill.

The minister was impressed, and indeed a little surprised after the briefing that a local Chinese language newspaper would take such initiative to shatter the barriers between ethnic communities in sowing the seed of friendship and understanding, which to him was inconceivable.

At that very moment, he was really moved by Sin Chew's effort in promoting national unity, and was appreciative of its remarkable contribution in this respect.

We were very encouraged by Mat Sabu's approval. It marked the first step towards greater mutual understanding and trust.

Unfortunately after a couple of months, Sin Chew suddenly becomes a newspaper that is eager to fan racial sentiments, from one that used to promote solidarity, out of the mouth of the same Mat Sabu.

Is it because Sin Chew Daily has changed, or that Mat Sabu has been himself misinformed?

We are definitely not the same as Utusan. We are serving our readers and the journalistic profession. We are not, and will not, side any party on any side of the political divide.

In the Jawi incident, we have carried our news reports and editorials based on facts. As for the Zakir incident, we do this from Malaysia's standpoint.

Mat Sabu is the Member of Parliament for Kota Raja, and a cabinet minister representing his Parti Amanah Negara. He can actually play an objective and positive role in both these incidents.

Kota Raja is a mixed constituency with sizable Chinese and Indian voter populations which are, as matter of fact, strongly resistant to the teaching of Jawi calligraphy at vernacular schools.

As the elected representative there, Mat Sabu should listen to the voices of his constituents and relay them to the cabinet.

Branding itself a liberal Islamic party, Amanah has won the overwhelming support of many non-Muslim voters.

When a foreigner questioned the loyalty of Indian Malaysians and saw the Chinese as mere “guests” of this country, Mat Sabu should adhere to his liberal religious principle and speak for the minorities.

Where this is concerned, many ruling and opposition Muslim leaders have stood up for the Chinese and Indians, including Umno's Hishammuddin and PPBM's Syed Saddiq and Rais Yatim.

Amanah's gesture has been somewhat disappointing.

Before he criticized us, perhaps Mat Sabu should have looked back at Sin Chew's business philosophy and social contribution which he once showed his utmost appreciation.

If we can put in so much effort for a more tolerant, liberal and moderate Malaysia, sure enough our minister can do the same.

Let's work together for a better Malaysia!

 

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