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Feb 20, 2008

Has Samy Vellu left the building?


MIC president S. Samy Vellu was given prominent air time during Radio 24's news slot at 1.00pm on 19 February, taking up 28 per cent of the time allocated for election-related stories (almost 12 minutes). While there were significant sound bites from Samy Vellu - now the target of open attacks from the Indian Malaysian community - the piece ignored earlier statements he had made about his future in Malaysian politics. Today, Samy Vellu said he was prepared to give up his position if the Indian Malaysian community wanted him to leave.

“I am not going to be here for 100 years, I won't live for 100 years....I am prepared to go if that is the wish of the people, and that decision has to be made by the Indians, as I am the representative of the Indians,” he said, probably at a media conference.
Three days ago, he sang a different tune. Berita Harian reported on 17 February that Samy Vellu he would stay on for another seven or eight years or until there was a suitable successor. The top page story on page 7 dedicated 13 paragraphs to Samy Vellu under the headline: “Samy Vellu mahu dua penggal lagi”, saying among others, “Mungkin tujuh atau lapan tahun lagi saya akan bertahan bagi memastikan ada pengganti yang mampu membela masyarakat India.” The station however, does not mention any of the times the MIC president and other party leaders have been jeered and booed at different events.

For some reason, Rafidah Aziz also gets significant air time over Radio 24. Yesterday, she was highlighted for her statement on the fielding of Wanita candidates. Today, in a follow-up story, Radio 24 interviewed, once again, Professor Datuk Dr. Shamsul Amri Baharuddin of UKM for his opinion on the role of women in elections. This was immediately followed by a sound clip of Rafidah Aziz from yesterday's interview for more than a minute. Earlier, she was quoted as criticising Pas' Nik Aziz Nik Mat, who had likened Umno leaders to orang utan. She said the statement was uncalled for and it was unbecoming of a leader to liken other people to animals. A quick note to Rafidah: she should repeat her statement to her colleagues such as Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz who has a record of making statements against the opposition and civil society groups, remember Nazri's “pondan” to the Bersih organisers and supporters; Khairy Jamaluddin's “monyet” and Zainuddin Maidin's “goblok” against bloggers?

While not directly related to the elections, MCA Wanita chief Ng Yen Yen was mentioned in a news item on the launch of an NGO award with support from Exxon Mobil Exploration and Production Malaysia Inc (full story in Bernama). The organiser of the award (to reward NGOs that have good accounting and reporting records) is a former deputy minister Wong See Wah, who used to be the MP for Rasah. The story was reported from the scene and was allocated almost two minutes - even longer than the top story of the hour (40 seconds) that outgoing Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani Othman would remain in Johor, ending speculation that he would contest for a Parliamentary seat.

And those listening to Radio 24 (on air at 93.9 or through audio streaming) should take note that a recurrent comment used is that of Anthony Dass of Inter Pacific Research, who was on air several times last week and now this week, on the impact of the elections on the market. Biz English anchors Anne Edwards and Keith Kam need to provide fresh interviews and not depend on week-old recorded sound bites. With so many issues being fought out for the elections, radio stations can provide space for discussion to the different political parties and observers. RTM's TraxxFm, another casualty of playing old programmes (today, it was on stroke), should use its air time for the 11.00am slot to invite speakers to talk about the elections. This is the station that cancelled its interview with Elizabeth Wong of Suaram and Parti Keadilan Rakyat, at the last minute. It was reported that they had asked if she would talk about the Bersih rally that was being organised that weekend, and she had said yes. The cancellation came almost immediately.


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