Advise to Mohamad Rahmat and politicians not to resort to the irresponsible tactics of turning the Justice Bao television series controversy into a racial issue by claiming that others have made it into a racial issue


By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Monday, October 9, 1995:

Advise to Mohamad Rahmat and politicians not to resort to the irresponsible tactics of turning the Justice Bao television series controversy into a racial issue by claiming that others have made it into a racial issue

I advise the “Information Minister, Datuk Mohamed Rahmat and politicians not to resort to the irresponsible tactic of turning the Justice Bao television series controversy into a racial issue by claiming that others have made it into a racial issue .

I had anticipated such an undesirable development., and this was why in my press statement last Friday, I had called on all political leaders to show their political maturity and -Malaysianness in not regarding the Justice Bao issue in any ethnic term, but solely on its intrinsic merit and values.

In all the statements which DAP leaders had made on the Justice Bao controversy, we had never accused Mohamad Rahrnat of being a “racist” for the ban on on local television stations from telecasting the Justice Bao series.

From the very outset, I had stressed that the ban on local television stations from telecasting the Justice Bao tele¬vision series run afoul of five important, aspects of nation’-building: (i) the multi-racial, multi- lingual , multi-cultural and mul ti-rel igious charactersistics ana diversity or Ma lay si a ; ( ii) the Bangsa Malaysia concept or Vision 2020; (iii) the role of history an nation-building; (iv) the inculcation or values ‘ intojerant of corruption and abuses of power; and (v) the promotion at independent, honest and upright judges and of f icials.

It Mohamed Rahmat has evidence that, there are people, whether political parties, leaders or television stations who are going round stirring racial tensions over the Justice Bao issue, he should publicly name them!

Surely, Malaysians should be mature enough to be able to have a public debate and discussion on the propriety or other-vise of the ban on local television stations from telecasting the Justice Bao series, without anyone getting “racial ” or “racist”, whether the critic or the defender, whether directly or indirectly.

Furthermore, the ban on local television stations from telecasting the Justice Bao series is not. contributing to the creation of “a civil society” which the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, had been expounding in the past, three years .

Mohamed Rahmat should explain what are the bad values which would be disseminated if the local television stations are allowed to telecast the Justice Bao series, in terms or good moral values, I have no doubt that the Justice Bao series IS better than the overwhelming majority of the programmes offered by the local television stations.

I hope Mohamed Rahmat would have the vision and humility to admit that, the Information Ministry guideline banning television stations from telecasting Justice Bao series is not only outdated but.

incompatible with the Vision 2020 expounded by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr . Mahathir Mohamad, and that he could himself to propose to the Cabinet on Wednesday the change of the Information Ministry guideline so as to allow Malaysians to watch the Justice Bao series on MetroVision

It Mohamed Rahmat is not prepared TO concede that the Information Ministry is wrong on the Justice Bao issue, then the MCA. President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik, who had undertaken. to rectify the issue on Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, is the remaining hope!

Why should the Cabinet get involved in deciding what time should be prime news time?

Malaysians as a whole must be taken aback by the threat of Mohamed Rahmat yesterday to revoke the television licence of MetroVision and to close it down.

He gave three reasons for his threat: firstly, the Justice Baa controversy: secondly, the defiance or Cabinet, ruling by bringing forward the prime news time from 8 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. ; and thirdly, the launching of the interactive television service without his Ministry’s approval.

On the question or prime news time, the thought in every Malaysian’s mind is not why MetroVision is being so per¬verse as to provoke the Minister’s wrath and threat to close down the television station, but as to why the Cabinet should get involved in deciding what time should be prime news over local television stations!

Hasn’t the Cabinet more important things to concern itself, as to have to decide what hour is the prime news time?

Surely, what time is prime news time is best left to the individual television stations and the Malaysian viewers. In an era of privatisation, there is even less justification for the Cabinet to get involed to decree what time is prime news time in Malaysia!

It is absurd that the Information Minister should get angry that MetroVision fixes its news time at 7. 30 p.m., and it is even more absurd that the Cabinet should decree that 8 p.m. should be prime news time. Cabinet. Ministers should reconsider why they put themselves in such a ridiculous position.

It was not so long ago when the Cabinet was made responsible for the ridiculous decision whereby RTM 1 and 2 had to telecast, the same news programe at 8 p.m. prime time news which was to deny viewers the freedom of choice!

When is prime news time should be left, to the healthy competition of the local television stations – which would be determined by a variety of factors, including the appropriateness of the time and the superior quality of the news programme.

Or will Mohamed Rahmat suggest that the Cabinet should not only decree when is prime news time, but should produce a standard news programme daily to be used by all local televisions so as to force it on the views and to ensure that all news programmes would be “politically correct”?

Mohamad Rahmat’s comments on the third “breach” by MetroVision in launching interactive television service without his Ministry’s approval only reflects poorly on himself. Mohamed Rahmat said MetroVision was being “naughty” and that “ They seem to think they are greater than the Cabinet”.

Such statement are clearly uncalled for , and Mohamad Rahmat must learn that he is not Information Minister in Malaysia in the 60s and 70s, but Information Minister at an age which is undergoing an Information Technology revolution, and his thinking and ideas must keep abreast of such revolutionary changes in IT.