Melayu Mudah Lupa

Once upon a time, two renowned bloggers were summoned by a Prime Minister for the articles they had written on a former Deputy Prime Minister. As a parting shot, the Prime Minister said to the two bloggers:

Tone down a bit la!”

The flurry of attacks on Najib Razak, his family and 1MDB by former Prime Minister Mahathir has shown that the former PM is going at all costs to have the former removed from office. A series of meetings with UMNO incumbents were held to convince them to not support Najib and to press for his resignation.

When that did not work, the former Prime Minister then used foreign press to do the job for him. My diplomat friend said,

Mahathir is now not just attacking Najib as a person, he has taken on the government of Malaysia and has tarnished Malaysia’s image on an international scale, something he chided Anwar Ibrahim for doing. I have never had foreign counterparts asking me if it is safe to invest in Malaysia with Mahathir trying to destabilize it.

Lest we forget those instances when Anwar went around badmouthing the country and everyone labeled him a traitor, especially by Mahathir. Here are several classic examples of Melayu Mudah Lupa:

Here’s what Tun said about the western media, their tactics, their henchmen and assassination by defamation. Today, he is doing all that he once condemned.

His speeches are public record and the full text are linked here.


Speech at  majlis penyampaian hadiah kewartawanan malaysia on 12/12/1983

12. Inilah jenis laporan yang dibuat oleh pemberita dan akhbar terkemuka di Amerika. Sudah tentu apabila mereka melaporkan tentang negara kita, fitnah mereka tidak ada had sama sekali. Tidak ada yang terlalu buruk untuk dilapor tentang kita. Sebaliknya sebarang kebaikan tidak ada tempat dalam halaman akhbar mereka.

14. Sikap dan tanggungjawab akhbar tempatan tidak menyenangkan beberapa wartawan Malaysia who are in the pay of the foreign press. Orang-orang ini, terutama yang berasa kecewa kerana tidak mendapat sesuatu bagi diri sendiri di masa berkhidmat dalam negara, tidak jemu dengan memutar-belitkan berita negara sendiri, supaya they are given a pat on the back by their foreign masters. We watch the antics of these pet poodles with utter contempt and derision.


Speech at Majlis penyampaian hadiah kewartawanan anjuran institut akhbar Malaysia on 9/11/1984

6. Aliran ini sudah sampai ke Malaysia. Berita yang benar kerap kali tidak dihiraukan. Jika ada mesyuarat atau lawatan atau pameran atau apa-apa jua peristiwa, yang diberi perhatian bukan peristiwa itu tetapi soal-soal lain yang menjadi minat akhbar. Soalan dibuat dalam berbagai bentuk dan bertalu-talu untuk menjadikan sesuatu perkara itu sebagai isu yang hangat. Selepas menyoal seseorang, maka disoal pula orang-orang lain yang diketahui mempunyai pandangan yang bertentangan — untuk memberi pandangan terhadap pendapat sasaran pertama. Maka dengan itu akan terjadilah satu kontroversi — yang dipuja dan dihembus oleh akhbar sehingga panas berapi.

7. Bahawa akibatnya ialah ketegangan dan kegelisahan dalam masyarakat sehingga terjejas ekonomi, kestabilan politik dan perpaduan, tidak sama sekali dipedulikan. Yang penting ialah akhbar yang kononnya ingin melapor yang benar.

Tuan-tuan dan Puan-puan, 

8. Satu lagi perkara yang ingin saya sebutkan ialah tentang pemberita kita yang tidak segan-segan menjadi TALI BARUT kepada akhbar-akhbar di luar negeri. Mereka ini apabila menulis dalam akhbar tempatan lain bunyinya. Tetapi untuk akhbar luar negeri, mereka mencerca dan menghina negara sendiri, mencaci pemimpin dan Raja-Raja dan sanggup menjatuhkan maruah negara mereka sendiri. Nama mereka sendiri tidak disiarkan tetapi mereka tentulah dipuji oleh wartawan asing. Sebenarnya mereka sudah menjadi alat kepada bangsa-bangsa yang tidak senang melihat kejayaan Malaysia. Saya amat kesal adanya manusia jenis ini di kalangan pemberita kita.

9. Saya memberanikan diri untuk membuat teguran ini walaupun imej saya boleh dirosakkan oleh akhbar. Malaysia belum menjadi negara yang maju dan kuat, yang kebal dan yang tidak boleh dihancurkan. Kita masih lemah. Biarlah amalan masyarakat yang kukuh dan kuat di negara barat tinggal di barat. Kita perlu berhati-hati. Jika tidak, mungkin kita akan kekal dengan kelemahan kita tanpa sedikitpun mengecap kejayaan. Dan kita akan terus diperhamba dan dihinakan.


Speech at majlis makan malam anjuran kelab kebangsaan wartawan-wartawan Malaysia on 1/3/1986

9. Perhaps in a democracy fear from bodily harm has been more or less removed. But there are other fears. Assassination need not be by knife or bullets only. A person can be assassinated by defamation. And in a democratic society it is so easy to defame and destroy and get away with it. The target here is limited. It must be someone for whom a bad image can do harm – a public figure for example. And if the public figure depends on popularity, he may just lose it if defamed. For all practical purposes he will have been assassinated.

13. I have lived in Malaysia all my life, except for the visits abroad which are so interesting to some people. Malaysians are quite unique. We are masochists who enjoy excoriating ourselves. We can see nothing right about our country but the most minute wrong is plainly visible to our naked eye as the Malay saying goes, ‘from across the river’. And so we read daily that this or that economic or political crisis is about to destroy us. We moan loudly and frighten off foreigners from visiting or investing in our country.

14. The fact that we are still around and that we have not disintegrated disappoints us – because our predictions are wrong. We go on to report another crisis. We do not seem to realise that what we think is a unique occurrence in Malaysia is really a common event in other countries. They do not get unduly excited. Life goes on. Everybody’s still around and the event is soon forgotten. Growth and progress takes place as usual.
16. Perhaps our country does not deserve our help. I beg to differ. I think it does. None of us will gain by running down our own country and making our dire predictions come true. The truth is that other countries are worse, including the developed countries. I am glad that some newspapers now do publish about poverty in Europe and America. But what has been written is the tip of the iceberg. Actually some of these countries are rotten to the core when it comes to the very things they are so fond of criticising developing countries about. Extensive poverty in the midst of plenty is just one of them. Racial and colour discrimination is blatant. Crime is rampant. The streets and parks are wild jungles. Old ladies get coshed and drunks rolled. The prisons are not only overcrowded but all kinds of crimes are committed there, frequently with the connivance of prison authorities.

17. Filth abound in the cities. The streets are badly paved. The cleaners don’t clean. Staff everywhere is rude and unhelpful unless bribed with tips. These and many more are common to the developed countries. But they don’t write as often about these shameful things as we do about our failures.

18. Distaste for a person or a group should not make us take it out of our own country. However, we are a free people. If anyone wishes to denigrate his own country, it is his right. I am glad that Malaysian journalists, by and large, are free from these traits.


Speech  at the opening of the commonwealth press union biennial conference on 26/10/1998

15. Unfortunately the media itself is often tempted to misuse power. I am not a fan of President Bill Clinton but I do sympathise with him. He only hugged Monica Lewinsky once, at least in public. He may have hugged her more times in private, that we don`t have any pictures of. But that one hug has prefaced every report on President Clinton whether the subject matter had anything to do with his single instance of discretion or not. If the CNN is to be believed Bill Clinton has hugged Monica a thousand times, twelve times a day ever since CNN resurrected that particular episode among the file pictures. With the passage of time the hug has improved in terms of clarity and vividness. There is no mistaking the look of adoration in Monica`s eyes and the body language of the President of the United States. The viewers, Americans and others must assume that the President must really know Monica intimately and all those stories about the phone- calls to the Senators even while he dallied with Monica must be the truth, the absolute truth and nothing but the truth.

16. As I said I am not a fan of President Clinton but I do feel that that kind of presentation via television is not quite fair to the President. There is no one in the United States who has not seen it and been influenced by it. How can anyone sit in judgement over him without being biased, without preconception? How can the impeachment of the President be fair and just?



14. Bagi negara kita, perkara yang utama ialah kestabilan politik atau lebih tepat lagi persepsi rakyat serta orang asing terhadap kestabilan ini. Sebenarnya semenjak negara kita merdeka, selain daripada peristiwa 13 Mei 1969, keadaan politik negara adalah stabil. Sudah tentu ia lebih stabil daripada kebanyakan negara-negara membangun. Adanya usaha merebut jawatan dan kempen-kempen adalah perkara biasa dalam sesebuah demokrasi. 

15. Tetapi kegiatan-kegiatan ini boleh mencemar gambaran stabiliti kerana tekanan laporan dan bahasa yang digunakan. Seseorang yang membuat kritikan biasa boleh menimbulkan kemarahan yang lebih oleh pihak sasaran jika pengkritik dilaporkan sebagai telah membuat `tamparan hebat` terhadap seseorang. Kadangkala keadaan tenang boleh menjadi ribut hanya dengan bertanya kepada satu pihak dan kemudian menyampaikan jawapannya kepada pihak yang menentang untuk mendapatkan reaksi. 
16. Pihak akhbar mencipta berbagai jenis hak di bawah kebebasan media dalam demokrasi. Sekarang ini ada yang bercakap berkenaan dengan hak mengetahui atau `the right to know`. Dalam pengurusan sesuatu organisasi, rahsia diperlukan. Umpamanya semasa rundingan, semua pihak perlu menyembunyikan apakah yang boleh dipersetujui oleh mereka, supaya dapat konsesi yang lebih menguntungkan. Sama ada perundingan ini adalah antara syarikat atau pertubuhan atau negara, masing-masing akan cuba mendapatkan sesuatu keputusan yang lebih menguntungkan. 

22. Musuh kita yang besar sekali ialah diri kita sendiri. Terdapat sikap yang negatif di kalangan kita yang menyebabkan kita selalu memandang rendah terhadap kebolehan kita dan membesar-besarkan kebolehan orang lain. Jika ada sahaja sesuatu usaha, kita terus meramalkan ianya tetap tidak akan berjaya. Jika akhirnya berjaya juga usaha itu, kita akan memperkecilkan kejayaan usaha itu atau mencari kesalahan titik-bengek. Dengan ini maka sukar bagi rakyat Malaysia mempunyai keyakinan terhadap apa juga yang diusahakan. 

23. Mengikut aliran baru apa yang dipanggil sebagai `investigative reporting`, sesuatu yang dicipta di Barat, segala usaha dijalankan bagi mencari yang salah untuk didedahkan. Memang benar ada kalanya kita perlu mendedahkan sesuatu supaya pembetulan boleh dibuat. Tetapi yang baik dan betul pun perlu didedahkan supaya kita tidak mempunyai inferiority complex.

When Tony Pua raised the 1MDB issue a few years ago, did anyone raise an eyebrow? Why now believe a white woman who writes for a foreign tabloid?

Perhaps the anti-colonialist has all but disappeared.

Now, the perpetrator who leaked false 1MDB documents has been apprehended, documents used by the white woman whom Mahathir was reported to have met in London. False documents that he and other detractors used in their attacks despite calls to  them asking to wait for the outcome of the investigations initiated.

Nevertheless damage has been done to both the economy and image of Malaysia.

Mahathir should remember what he had said to the two bloggers above.

Or is he now a Melayu Mudah Lupa?


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