On Sunday, November 6, Klang MP Charles Santiago called on the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to take action after openly criticising a news segment by channel Awesome TV on the 15th general election (GE15) via a three-part Tweet.
He made the following statement in response to the 1.41-minute video news clip:
“This reporting is racist to the core and seems planted to create fear ahead of GE15. News must be factual and true since it shapes public opinion. Action must be taken immediately by Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (MCMC).
“No media outlet should act as the government’s go-between. It does the nation and its citizens a terrible disservice. The future of the nation is at risk in this vital general election. Therefore, since the media is accountable to the public, I implore them to be honest,” he said, adding that the media sector must unite to combat fabricated content in order to uphold the integrity of journalism.
“Awesome TV station is acting dishonestly, and this must be denounced,” he concluded.
STATEMENT: This reporting is racist to the core & seems planted to create fear ahead of GE15 News must be accurate & truthful as it influences public perception. @MCMC_RASMI needs act urgently. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/TuEphj81k4
— Charles Santiago (@mpklang) November 6, 2022
In the video, Awesome TV newscasters urged ethnic Malay people to vote in the general election (GE15) if they did not want political power to allegedly be seized by “other races” if Pakatan Harapan (PH) triumphs and to prevent Malay interests from being marginalised.
They based their caution on a poll that revealed that 80% of ethnic Chinese Malaysians who responded to the survey intended to vote.
Malay Mail reported that the news segment from Awesome TV omitted complex information including the fact that ethnic Chinese respondents in the survey who intended to cast ballots had varying political preferences, with some favouring Barisan Nasional (BN), Perikatan Nasional (PN), and Muda and not invariably Pakatan Harapan.
Huayan Policy Institute conducted the poll of 2,354 ethnic Chinese voters in collaboration with O2 Research Malaysia, Ilham Center, Sinar Harian, The Star, Astro Awani, and Malaysia Nanban. 2,061 respondents provided online responses, and 293 in-person interviews were conducted in Bukit Gelugor in Penang, Sungai Besar in Selangor, and Ayer Hitam in Johor, which BN holds.
According to the survey results, 80% of the Chinese voters surveyed will or are very likely to vote in the GE15, with only 9% stating they won’t or are not very likely to vote and 11% saying they are unsure. It also stated that ethnic Chinese respondents who supported PH were the most likely to vote, with a 69.36 percent turnout rate, followed by those who supported Muda with a 54.22 percent turnout rate, BN with a 49.29 percent turnout, and PN with a 39.39 percent turnout rate.
In response to Charles’ statement as well as flak drawn from the public, Awesome TV released a statement yesterday saying that individuals with political agendas distorted its report urging Malay voters to cast their ballots in record numbers on election day.
It claimed that some of its detractors were opposed to the Bumiputera agenda.
“Some political groups, particularly those opposed to the Bumiputera agenda, have used Berita 7:57’s goal to become racial on social media,” the publication’s spokesman claimed.
Awesome TV believes that the manipulation is intended to harm Awesome TV, which is attempting to persuade citizens to exercise their rights to vote responsibly.
Malay Mail also reports that in May of this year, Awesome TV came under fire for using a racist tone in its coverage of Serba Dinamik Holdings Bhd and Sapura Energy Bhd.
The executive head of the Securities Commission (SC), Datuk Syed Zaid Jaafar Albar, was then alleged by Awesome TV to have failed to assist Bumiputera enterprises in getting out of financial difficulties, and was originally wrongly identified as a non-Malay by the TV station. Recently, the media company was also the subject of multiple claims that it had failed to compensate talent and content creators, which it vigorously denied.