Cover Story, Current Affairs, National

Why is PN misusing the rakyat’s money by paying newspapers to sing its praises?

Press Statement
22nd January 2021

PN should come clean if they are also paying for advertorials in The Star, while The Star must also explain why these articles were not labelled “advertorials”

Two days ago, Sin Chew Daily wasn’t the only one that published a full page praising and complimenting the PERMAI Assistance Package. The Star also published a one-page article headlined “All-round approval for latest Covid-19 relief measures (ie. PERMAI)”. The only difference between these two articles is that while the one in Sin Chew Daily was labelled as a “paid advertorial”, the one in The Star wasn’t.

Last year on November 22, Sin Chew Daily printed a one-page article headlined “Budget 2021: Aid comes in the nick of time and is of great help”. At the same time, The Star also published a 2-page story with the headline “Government initiatives in Budget 2021 get the thumbs up.”

Again, the article in Sin Chew Daily was labelled as a “paid advertorial” while the one in The Star wasn’t.

Also in December last year, The Star printed 3 articles on the i-Sinar EPF withdrawal program:

December 4, 2020 – A ray of hope from EPF in tough times

December 5, 2020 – EPF withdrawal very timely for many

December 7, 2020 – EPF withdrawal will help tide things over

Meanwhile, there were also 2 paid advertorials on i-Sinar in Sin Chew Daily that were printed on December 5 and December 7.

On December 15, both Sin Chew Daily and The Star again printed articles on Budget 2021. The former interviewed 26 Malaysians, and the key message delivered was that they wanted to see Budget 2021 passed.

On the other hand, The Star interviewed 11 Malaysians who were apparently “Happy with Budget 2021 Initiatives.”

Frankly, we don’t know how many more paid advertorials the PN Government has splashed money on. But a quick glance over the papers for the past 2 months already reveals 5 paid advertorials in Sin Chew Daily, and 7 pages of suspected advertorials in The Star.

To be very clear, we are NOT against paid advertorials. Nor are paid advertorials illegal. But the government should be using such advertorials to explain policies or disseminate important information, not to heap praise on itself or to thank itself. PN’s self-validation is an utter waste of taxpayers’ hard-earned money and completely unethical. It is also shameless, considering that the PN government is illegitimate and toppled a democratically elected government chosen by the people.

That said, we do understand that the media relies heavily on advertisements to survive and it is not illegal for them to put up government advertorials. However, clear caveats should be put in place to ensure that readers fully understand which articles are paid advertorials. Failure to do so is knowingly misleading the public and deliberately manipulating public opinion. Both violate ethical journalism.

Teo Nie Ching
MP for Kulai

Sim Tze Tzin
MP for Bayan Baru

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