The last two days have proven one thing about Malaysian mainstream media, especially those government controlled ones and specifically, Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia; the spinmeisters pulling the strings have lost all sense of decency. Shooting from the hip most times at the slightest excuse to show acquiescence to their political handlers, this "shoot on sight" mentality has become almost always a knee-jerk reaction that is meant to kick someone. The latest is this "Ultraman cartoon" in Berita Harian following the Japan tsunami,
and on Sunday, in Utusan Online this on "Elizabeth Wong":
Both are Malay language papers and the question arises whether the conditioned one-race mentality of their journalists and editors has made them totally parochial. They seem to be clueless and insensitive about the common humanity of mankind; humility it seems is only reserved for those who they identify with.
The Ultraman cartoon has likely caused irreversible damage to the nation's reputation as the image of even Ultraman running away in fear of the tsunami becomes ingrained in the memory of Japanese agonizing over this massive devastation. Attempt at damage control with subsequent apologies by Berita Harian is like trying to close the barn door after the horse has bolted.
The Utusan "Elizabeth Wong" headline was an obvious attempt to dredge up the name of the other Elizabeth Wong (Bukit Lanjan ADUN) and rekindle images of her leaked naked pictures. But this deceased Elizabeth Wong happens to be my daughter Krystyn's ex-classmate in secondary school and my heart goes out to her parents for having to suffer this publicity stunt during such a heart-wrenching time. Why was their daughter's name highlighted yet in today's Star Paper the police are reported as still trying to identify the victim:
Well, the response to the Ultraman cartoon seems quite immediate from the Japan Government. This was also in today's Star Paper:
As for Elizabeth's family, they can only suffer in grieve. To respond will not bring her back but may end up glorifying Utusan.