When a tabloid belonging to the Utusan group told the truth – i.e. that Yasmin Ahmad was born a man – there was a firestorm of protest from some reporters.
But when Utusan Malaysia was telling untruths, there was pregnant silence from the newspaper fraternity.
When the feelings of Yasmin’s family were hurt by the revelation, there was an uproar from the advertising agencies (she was responsible for the Petronas commercials, and a long time with Leo Burnett), and from reporters and the socialites who were her friends.*
But when the feelings of Kugan Ananthan’s family were hurt by the things printed about him, these people (who raised a stink on Yasmin’s behalf by threatening to pull their ad money from the paper, and the senior editors who drafted a protest letter and led a signature drive, and the “disgusted” Marina Mahathir blog which called for a boycott of “that despicable rag” Kosmo!) were silent.
Utusan Malaysia had reported that Kugan’s family “charged into” and “broke into” the mortuary to see his battered body. The paper’s editorial voice Awang Selamat likened the episode to “action in a Bollywood film”.
Then Awang Selamat had this to say: “The question is, why are the non-Malays reacting in such an extreme manner when it involves a victim from their own race (ostensibly in the name of civil rights and justice) to the extent of causing the government and the authorities to come under tremendous stress?”
He also said this: “If all this while, Malay leaders had the confidence to confront extremism and militancy that involves many Malay groups even though they had to face objections raised by some Muslims, why do Indian leaders behave in the opposite way?”
He accused these Indian leaders of being racists and desiring to become race heroes.
Utusan Malaysia carried another headline warning those concerned over the Kugan case not to behave like braves [‘Jangan ada bertindak jadi hero kes kematian Kugan’].
Awang Selamat – taking it upon himself to speak for his race – claims that Malays and bumiputera organizations see the non-Malays as getting too big for their britches [“kaduk naik junjung”].
On the Yasmin story, the tabloid belonging to Utusan has published a front page banner apology after its staff were castigated by opinion leader Marina as “some truly low creatures”.
So will we see a similar pressure put on Utusan for its other low blows against Malaysians who are neither rich nor famous?