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Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah has failed as the communication chief of Malaysia

Media Statement by Member of Parliament for Kluang, Wong Shu Qi on 5 August 2020 (Tuesday) in Parliament:

Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah failed as the communication chief of the government to protect the reputation of Malaysia

As the Minister in charge of Communication and Multimedia Ministry, Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah should be at the forefront to protect the reputation of the country when Malaysia is wrongly depicted in the media. However, the Minister not only failed to rebut Al-Jazeera’s news report, he added salt to the wound by using a high-handed approach against the news agency.

The Minister was very clear in his answer in Parliament yesterday, the Muhyiddin administration used Section 22(1) Finas Act 1981 against Al-Jazeera because the latter has offended the government. 

The picture is scary: PN government retaliated against the media using a law which the government themselves admitted is outdated and is in the process of being amended. If anything, this is clearly a form of abuse of power.

Furthermore, Saifuddin Abdullah should not hide behind “frontliners” to give excuse for his own incompetency as minister in charge of communication. Saifuddin was quoted as saying, our frontliners were offended by the Al Jazeera news report. The truth is, although the government was given a chance to clarify and explain in the said report, it failed to do so.

As minister for communication, Saifuddin Abdullah should create a proper platform to engage, clarify and explain the situation if the actions taken by the authority at that time was misunderstood or misrepresented in the news report. Unfortunately, he thoroughly failed to do so. Instead of clarifying the actual situation and perhaps even taking the opportunity to highlight the challenges faced by our frontliners, he resorted to a high-handed approach by intimidating the media.

The public will not be duped into believing the minister’s doublespeak, on one hand he claims he is protecting media freedom, on the other hand he is taking high handed actions to stifle the media.

Saifuddin Abdullah (top left) and Wong Shu Qi (bottom left) in Parliament on 4 Aug 2020 | Source: Parlimen Malaysia

I want to stress here that it is true Pakatan Harapan did not manage to reform or update all archaic laws in 22 months. Yet, we did not use it against the media. In fact, freedom of the media flourished under Pakatan Harapan as evidenced by local and international reports.

But amusingly, Saifuddin Abdullah blamed Pakatan Harapan for failing to take action despite the fact that he was not only a minister in the Pakatan Harapan government cabinet, he was also a senior leader of the coalition being the chief secretary of Pakatan Harapan. Or perhaps he hopes that Malaysians will forget his role as a failed Foreign Minister who pushed for the ratification of ICERD and Rome Statute which incited a huge public outcry in particular from those whom he is now working together with in Perikatan Nasional. 

Wong Shu Qi,
Member of Parliament for Kluang

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