Spinning out of controlPosted: October 17, 2008
I have never fully understood the term ‘spin’ in media, until today.
HINDRAF has finally been outlawed. For an organisation that has deliberately agitated and exploited the sentiments of the Indian community, capitalising on their disenchantment via provocative means, it has rightly been proscribed for its words and deeds. The movement, which sought to highlight the plight of poor Tamils, unfortunately chose ruinous methods to do so.
This is only the first paragraph of the editorial.
NST says: HINDRAF has finally been outlawed.
That would suggest and put into people’s minds that this is something that they had been waiting for.
NST says: deliberately agitated; exploited sentiments; capitalised disenchantment; using provocation; choosing ruinous methods.
This is a big splash of strong negative adjectives, all crammed into one paragraph (the first one at that), to give the reader a negative impression of Hindraf, right from the beginning.
Manipulating a community and convincing them that they have been deliberately disenfranchised is unacceptable, especially in multiracial, multi-religious Malaysia. Amid its fire and brimstone, it was also ironic that Hindraf had not made concrete pleas or suggestions to uplift the welfare of underprivileged Indians. Instead, it cunningly took advantage of the community’s underlying sense of being marginalised and used it as a means to wreak further discord and enmity.
Basically, the entire editorial is more of the same. More adjectives painting them in bad light.
It is not difficult to get swayed by this, especially if a fence-sitter were to read this. It started with all the correct ingredients to prepare the readers to generally accept that Hindraf is bad news. The continuous use of negatives further strengthens their viewpoint.
Now, if we were to highlight this one sentence in another way:
Instead, it cunningly took advantage of the community’s underlying sense of being marginalised and used it as a means to wreak further discord and enmity.
The question has to be asked. Why does the community have the underlying sense of being marginalised? The entire editorial, no matter how many times I read it, does not go there.
Instead, it says this:
Voters sent out a strong signal in the March general election that they wanted the MIC to be more proactive on their issues. An Indian vote swing was obvious and post-election surveys confirmed that the community was not happy about social, economic and education issues.
The community is definitely not happy. That I can agree. But what this article does is paints MIC to be synonym with the Indian community. It makes it so that MIC and Indians are seen as inseparable.
The vote swing confirmed that they were not happy, and they want to see something done about it. But it was a vote swing, not a survey. The conclusion drawn here that they want MIC to be more proactive is one big leap of imagination, and much too big a gap to make that leap of faith.
The ending is simply magnificent:
For while other component parties within the Barisan Nasional have undertaken sweeping reforms since the watershed of March 8, the push for change in the MIC has been glacial. It is imperative that the party plays a more assertive and aggressive role, but in the BN spirit of give-and-take.
If change of leadership with basically nothing new can be taken to be the equivalent of ‘sweeping reforms’, then yes, the other component parties have had those reforms. Even Malaysia is on its way to ‘sweeping reforms’.
But the last time I checked, reform means:
(1) to improve or remove faults from (a person, behaviour, etc.)
(2) to give up bad habits, to improve one’s behaviour, etc.
(3) to stop or abolish (misconduct, an abuse, etc.)
Hence it means that to reform, one must first find and recognise the fault, misconduct, mistake etc, and then either change it, or stop and abolish it.
I have not agreed with Hindraf fully. But they have not done ‘enough’ to deserve an editorial as such, which not only takes a snipe at them, but also in the same article tries to make MIC look like a saint.
Activism is NOT terrorism. Know the difference.