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Politics, scholarships and radio taboo

FROM 11 to 17 May 2009, the Chinese media highlighted the ongoing Perak crisis, and the yearly Public Service Department (PSD) scholarship furore. Additionally, Merdeka Review ran an exclusive story revealing that seven “sensitive” issues have become taboo for nine RTM radio stations.

Who is the rightful MB?

Hotly debated in the Chinese press was the ongoing court case to determine the rightful Perak menteri besar (MB), and the subsequent calls by various parties to dissolve the state assembly in order to allow Perakians the right to determine their own government.

Nanyang Siang Pao‘s Lui Xiu Zhu remarked in her article Double MB and dissolving state assembly on 15 May that the chaotic Perak sitting on 7 May made a mockery of democracy. Hence, few looked forward to the High Court ruling on the Perak MB case. When the High Court declared that the Pakatan Rakyat’s Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin was the rightful MB on 11 May, most Chinese newspapers headlined the court’s decision the next day.

“However, before newspaper columnists could comment on the ruling, the situation has changed, as the Court of Appeal approved (Datuk Seri Dr) Zambry’s (Abdul Kadir)’s application for a stay of execution on the High Court ruling on the afternoon of 12 May,” Lui wrote.

Lui then discussed the implications of the stay: “Did it (the stay) mean that Zambry is the rightful MB? Could he conduct his duties as MB when he is appealing against the High Court ruling?”

She cited the Malaysian Law Journal (1999) Issue 1 (pg. 129-192) and wrote that a stay granted by the Court of Appeal did not mean that the High Court ruling has become void. The ruling is still valid even though it cannot be executed until the Court of Appeal makes a decision on the appeal against the original ruling.

Therefore, Nizar would remain as the rightful MB even though he could not execute his powers or conduct his duties as a MB for now.

Lui’s comment echoed Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on 14 May, when he said Zambry should not re-assume the position of MB yet.

On 15 May, MCA Wanita chief Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun commented in a column in China Press that the PR and the people have accused the Barisan Nasional (BN) of being “kiasu” when the BN appealed against the High Court ruling instead of allowing the Perak assembly to be dissolved and fresh elections held.

In her article Bumpy roads ahead for BN, she wrote that the BN had received similar reactions previously when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that the BN may not contest in the Penanti by-election.

“… The most important thing now is to regain the people’s trust and confidence again, and this would depend on good governance, and it has to happen in a harmonious atmosphere so that the people can feel it!

“It seems like even if the Perak crisis is resolved … (Datuk Seri) Anwar (Ibrahim) will continue to raise different issues deliberately to keep the anti-BN sentiments going, so that the BN will be distracted; and the people will be distracted by the BN’s good governance as well!”

PSD Scholarship

In Sin Chew Daily and China Press on 11 May, MCA Youth Chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong slammed the PSD for not awarding overseas scholarships to top scorers. These straight A1s scorers were awarded local scholarships instead.

Subsequently, the deputy education minister announced that MCA Youth had received 800 complaints on the matter as of 15 May.

Among them, two national top 10 SPM scorers (one scored 15 A1s while another had 14 A1s) only received local scholarships from the PSD.

In addition, nine students who scored 13 A1s, 64 who scored 12 A1s, and 110 who scored 11 A1s were not awarded any scholarship at all.

Amid mounting anger among the people, MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat called on the government to review the PSD scholarship selection criteria, and award it based on merit.

However, in Malaysiakini (Chinese) on 14 May, Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice president Dr Lee Boon Chye lambasted the MCA for using the scholarship issue to gain publicity year after year.

He said the same “drama” has been going on for almost 30 years, and that it was time the government solved the issue once and for all.

In Sin Chew Daily on 16 May, commentator Chen Li Zhen questioned the logic of PSD officers’ decision to award local scholarships to top scorers and overseas scholarships to those who scored less well.

“It is costly to send students overseas. The scholarship is similar to an investment; when the scholarship recipients return to contribute to our society, they would be our return on investment.

“So, why are we not choosing the best [students] to minimise our investment risk?” asked Chen in her article Brothers and sisters.

Seven “sensitive” issues banned on RTM

Merdeka Review reported on 15 May that a notice had been issued to ban seven “sensitive” matters from being discussed on air in RTM radio programmes to prevent “controversy”.

The notice, signed by the respective radio stations’ chiefs, was pasted at the studios recently. Those topics that are now taboo include politics (involving the opposition), sex, race, language, religion, monarchy, and morals (involving current politics).

However, when Merdeka Review contacted Deputy Minister of Information, Communications and Culture, Senator Heng Seai Kie, to inquire further, she said she was not aware of the ban.

She said she would need to find out if the notice has really been issued, by whom and for what reason(s), before she could comment further.

Merdeka Review reported that RTM currently has nine radio stations under it. They are KLFM, Klasik Nasional, MuzikFM, TraXXFM, Ai FM, MinnalFM, AsyikFM, Voice of Malaysia, and Voice of Islam.

The Nut Graph is discontinuing Found in Translation so that we can redeploy our resources to develop more news articles, analyses and commentaries.

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