LUNAS BY-ELECTION REPORT - TV3's false reports
On the evening of 21 November 2000, TV3, the television station owned by UMNO, the dominant partner in Malaysia's ruling coalition, aired false reports especially targeted for the Lunas by-election.
One report was about 400 National Justice Party (keADILan) members leaving the party.
Every election and by-election TV3 announces thousands of members "leaving" the opposition parties. If one was to total up the number of members that have left the opposition parties over the last year alone, as reported by TV3, one would find that the figure exceeds the membership of the parties concerned. In other words, according to TV3, more members have left the opposition parties than the opposition has members.
I suppose a high score in arithmetic is not a main criterion for employment into TV3. Is that why TV3 showed shots of three old ladies walking along the Kesas Highway on 5 November 2000 and reported that no one turned out when other newspapers showed photos of 50,000 to 100,000 people?
Anyway, back to the 400 members leaving keADILan. This report, of course, referred to the incident in Merbok, not far from Lunas, where some Indian members left keADILan to rejoin their original party, MIC.
The truth is, less than 10 Indians left keADILan to rejoin MIC, and this happened some time ago, not recently as the impression given by TV3.
This small handful on Indians actually left MIC earlier over a dispute with its party President. They wanted something, which the President would not agree to, so they left the MIC and walked over to keADILan. This move was aimed at pressuring the MIC President.
In the short while these MIC members were in keADILan they raised racial and religious issues that made the Merbok members very uncomfortable. These ex-MIC members were treading on very dangerous ground that, in the past, has resulted in Hindu-Muslim clashes such as the Penang Mosque incident that almost started a religious bloodbath.
The local keADILan leadership was about to throw these troublemakers out when they left the party to rejoin the MIC.
According to a local keADILan leader, "These kind of people do not fit into a multiracial, multi-religious party like keADILan. Their actions are a threat to Muslim-Hindu relations. It is these kind of people who are the reason for Muslim-Hindu conflicts. It is better that they are in MIC. It just goes to show the MIC culture".
Another TV3 report was that the Democratic Action Party (DAP) was boycotting the Lunas by-election, proof being that the DAP top leadership was "absent" on Nomination Day.
What TV3 did not report was that, except for keADILan's president Dr Wan Azizah, the top leaders from the other parties were also "absent". And the reason was not because of a boycott, but because they were caught in the massive traffic jam - which incidentally was caused by the police closing up some of the roads - and could not get there in time.
In fact, most people "abandoned" their cars miles away and walked the distance to the nomination center in the blazing sun - not something the top leaders should be doing. But still, there were other leaders from the opposition coalition Alternative Front so the BA was well represented.
By the way, Mahathir too was absent. Does this mean he too is boycotting the MIC candidate? And there are two of them mind you, one contesting as an independent candidate. - Freeanwar