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We'll continue to tell the Malaysian Story

  • We will continue to tell the “Malaysian Story” till the last breath.

By KUIK CHENG KANG
Sin Chew Daily

A series of events organized in conjunction with Sin Chew Daily's 90th anniversary celebration came to a close last week. However, we will not stop just that.

As Media Chinese International Limited group chairman Dr Tiong Ik King has said, Sin Chew Daily will continue to voice up for the Malaysian Chinese community in the days to come, as it has done in the past.

After listening to the speech by Dr Tiong, one of the VIPs at our 90th anniversary dinner, Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia Mr Makio Miyagawa, suddenly came up to me and said, “I have a lot of feelings after listening to Chairman Tiong's speech. I want to say something new here to replace what I said to reporters when I arrived just now.”

This senior envoy who will be leaving Malaysia this October said, “Sin Chew Daily has always been providing a platform for Malaysians, and maybe some Singaporeans, to share their views. For all these 90 years, the newspaper has also offered more balanced views for Malaysians and Singaporeans on political, economic, cultural and social issues.”

Past or present, Sin Chew Daily has always provided a platform for political parties on both sides of the divide to express their political views. During BN's time, it was not uncommon for our reporting chiefs to receive “invitation for tea” from the home ministry. Nevertheless, we remained insistent that opposition voices had to be heard and published on the newspaper.

Our editorial section has become more open in recent years to accommodate diverging voices so that our readers can have access to more diverse viewpoints in the hope they can pass down more educated judgments after reading them.

Sin Chew Daily's reporting team is always committed to the principle of impartiality and balanced viewpoints. At the same time, we will refrain from fanning racial sentiments when carrying our news and will do our utmost to continue voicing up for the local Chinese community in a rational and even-handed way, considering the country's unique multiethnic position.

Even that will not spare us from the occasional ill-intentioned allegations.

In this age of overflowing misinformation, there might be times we make mistakes while handling the news. Often when such a situation arises, we will immediately publish a corrected version after the mistake is pointed out to us by the relevant parties.

Such technical errors should not be construed as we harboring an evil intention. It is impossible for anyone to be 100% perfect, but as media workers, we are willing to pursue the utmost levels of perfection and professionalism, as this is what we are obliged to do for our readers.

We sincerely hope that all parties will come to understand that it is impossible for us to avoid making mistakes on the fast-running media operation platform. This must not be misinterpreted as we trying to sabotage someone, otherwise our relationship will remain under stress.

I always believe that through mutual respect, understanding and tolerance, we can go much further from here, and can be much more focused in our respective job duties instead of wasting time on unnecessary disputes and suspicions.

I always remind my colleagues, not just in our monthly editorial meetings but also in day-to-day work, that we have to be extra careful when picking a headline or the words we use so that our readers or some irresponsible people will seize the opportunity to conclude that Sin Chew indeed has some untold agenda.

A long-time reader sent me a message recently, arguing that it was a lapse of duty on the part of Sin Chew for not highlighting what the Malaysian Chinese community was most concerned about. I replied that my colleagues were being excessively cautious and indecisive.

This, unfortunately, is an outcome of non-respect for journalistic sovereignty as well as continuous interference, assaults and denigration targeting the media, putting our reporters under constant pressure for fear or being alleged of quoting out of context such that they will rather go for a safer headline.

I have no idea which newspaper headline made this specific reader feel that we had not done our job properly.

During an interview with BFM on September 17, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir touched on the issue of multi-stream education in the country. Sinchew.com.my rushed out the news with the headline: “Multi-stream schools are bad; but government will respect sensitivity of Chinese”. Soon after the news was published, we received a phone complaint from a “relevant party”. As the news was translated from The Malay Mail, we immediately told the reporter to listen again to BFM's interview recording after learning about the mistake. We subsequently amended the online news and headline. The corrected version carried the headline “Tun M: to Malaysians, education is a sensitive issue”.

The prime minister said, “Education is a sensitive issue to Malaysians, especially due to cultural connections from vernacular education. The Chinese want to have Chinese schools, but this will not bring Malaysians together, and this also explains why Malaysians cannot go to school together.

“This is not good, as multi-stream education is not what this country needs, but then we will still respect the sensitivity of the Chinese people. We won't close down Chinese schools, but will handle this issue in a way not hurting their feelings.”

The print version of Sin Chew Daily also came up with the same headline: “Tun M: to Malaysians, education is a sensitive issue” which was, well, very safe without any subjective interpretation from our side.

This probably explains why some readers feel that our headlines miss out the most important parts in the news.

As a matter of fact, from Mahathir's speech, it is not hard to see that he, like may other Umno leaders, still believes that multi-stream education is the biggest culprit undermining our national unity, but is forced to accept the existence of Chinese primary schools under the existing political reality.

With those in power having this kind of attitude, it is inevitable for the Malaysian Chinese community to often react excessively to any new education policy from the government. At a time when both the previous BN administration and today's PH administration still fail to appreciate the contribution of Chinese schools towards the country's development as well as their value of existence, the local Chinese community will have no choice but to cautiously defend the Chinese schools.

As one of the three major pillars of the Malaysian Chinese society, Sin Chew Daily will continue to go through the thick and thin with the Chinese associations as well as Chinese education in this country in dealing with the obstacles and challenges lying before us.

We will continue to tell the “Malaysian Story” till the last breath!

 

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