News, SocioPolitics

BERSIH – Al-Jazeera Phone Interview with Information Minister

Below is the transcript of a telephone interview between the KL-based Qatari news network, Al-Jazeera’s Asia Bureau and our very own Minister of Information, Zainuddin Maidin.

The news anchor was grilling Zainuddin about the 40,000-strong BERSIH rally on Saturday that was deemed illegal by the police and demonstrators were attacked with chemical-laced water cannons and tear gas. And all our dear minister can muster were some amusing, self-denial, paranoia answers said with very broken English, especially considering he is the Information Minister. Really remind me of the equally nonsensical interview by the former Iraqi Information Minister during the Desert Storm II. He was denying the presence of American soldiers in Baghdad and claimed that those Americans are being slaughtered outside the city, all these while the sound of bombs exploding around him and the sound of American tanks moving into the city centre!

ZAM: ….I commend your journalists trying to project, to exaggerate
more than what actually happened. That, that, that, that’s it. We, we
are not, the, the — and I, I congratulate your journalists behaving
like an actor, that, that’s —

AJ: As you say that, sir, we’re watching scenes of protesters being sprayed by chemical-filled water …

ZAM (interrupts): Ya, I am watching, I hear, [?] …. trying to
do it everywhere but in Malaysia people are allowed, to, you know [?]
… Police have allowed the procession to go to the Istana Negara, you
know, do police, first police, like, they handle them, they [?] them,
they … the police don’t, don’t, don’t fire anybody …

AJ: Our correspondent came back to the office, sir, with chemicals in his eyes!

ZAM (speaking over her): … You, you, you, you are here with
the idea, you are trying to project, what is your mind, you think that
we are Pakistan, we are Burma, we are Myanmar, everything you, you are
thinking …

AJ: Well unfortunately when you refuse to let people protest, it does appear so.

ZAM (speaking over her): …Ya, ya, we are not like you, you
have early perception, you come here, you want to project us like
undemocratic country. This a democratic country!

AJ: So why can’t people protest then, if it’s a democratic country?

ZAM (interjects at “protest then”): Ya, people protest, people
then — first they protest, we are allowing protests, and they have
demonstrated. But we just trying to disperse them and then later they,
you know, disperse, but later our police compromise. They have
compromised and allowed them to proceed to Negara. Police, our police
have succeeded in handling them gently, right? Why do you report that
and you take the opposition, someone from opposition party you ask him
to speak, you don’t take from the government, right?

AJ: Why did you not break up these protesters —

ZAM (interrupting): Pardon? Pardon? Pardon?

AJ: Why did you not break up these protests more peacefully?

ZAM: I can’t hear you. I can’t hear you.

AJ: Why did you not break up these protests more peacefully?

ZAM: No we, we are, we, this protest is illegal. We don’t want,
this, the, normally … (slight pause, then continues to talk while she

AJ (interjecting): OK, so let me return to my former question. Why is this protest illegal?

ZAM (babbling on): Ya it’s illegal protest because (AJ: Why?) we
have the election in Malaysia. It’s no, no point on having the protest,
we are allowing to have every, an election every five years, never
fail. We not our like, are not like Myanmar, not like other country.
And, and you are helping this. You Al-Jazeera also is helping this,
this forces, the, you know, these forces who are not [?], who don’t
believe in [?] …

AJ (seems to want to say something, but decides not to): I don’t … many thanks for joining us.

ZAM: I don’t, ya, you, Jazeera, this is, is Al-Jazeera attitude. Right?

(she doesn’t reply. In the background, the chants of the protesters fill the silence)

* transcript courtesy of idleThinK

Malaysia’s mainstream medias are putting a news blanket on anything about BERSIH. Not surprisingly as almost all the free-to-air TV channels and newspapers are owned by the ruling party, while other independent media agencies might risk suspension for reporting it. So now we still have the freedom of bypassing government’s control of the media through the internet, at least till the day when our leaders turn paranoia like the generals in Myanmar, the president in Pakistan or the communists in China.

But don’t take this for granted. Be a responsible citizen of our beloved country. Cast your vote wisely this coming general election. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone if you know what I mean.

May God bless Malaysia.

* I am truly embarrassed by the Information Minister, speaking in those Manglish in a programme watch by millions of people across Asia. I wonder what he got for the SPM‘s English paper.


8 thoughts on “BERSIH – Al-Jazeera Phone Interview with Information Minister

  1. siaojidan – Have you register yourself to vote?limmeiyen – At first they reported 4,000, then police came out with their official figure of 10,000. Neutral parties claimed that there were about 40,000 people that day. Pick your choice!

  2. tn says:

    haha, we shouldn’t be surprised – all senior posts are given not based on skills or qualifications. msia boleh!me, i’ve always voted opposition no matter msia, u cannot vote for the candidate because they are all cowards; u should vote for the party.

  3. siaojidan – You did? Ops..wmw – Kakaka…I bet there’ll be more to – You are absolutely right. This coming election would be my first opportunity to vote!

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