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Bertha HarianBertha Harian

News Reports

Sorry CAN be easy to say

Apologies are in vogue leh! There’s one by the website New Nation to photographer Mohd Ishak over allegations that he doctored a photograph that was published in The New Paper and My Paper. Pretty stylishly done I must say, with lunch, dinner or teh tarik thrown in.
What’s interesting is the acknowledgement that the New Nation actually has a difficult motto or agenda to live up to.

As Belmont Lay wrote: “New Nation should only be known for circulating half-truths knowingly and intentionally. The mistake, therefore, was to circulate half-truths that were not fully certified to be half-truths. This, ironically, has a deleterious effect on our credibility (or incredibility).”

Yep. It’s easier to tell a lie or to tell the truth but half-truths? Even the mainstream media has been known to pick up stuff from New Nation thinking half-truths were the full truth. Now, that’s pretty funny. But it’s not funny if the half-truth is totally false, and what’s worse, affects the integrity or reputation of someone else in the telling.
So good on the New Nation!

The other apology is by PAP MP Zainuddin Nordin who put up a Terry Goodkind quote on democracy and had some netizens all up in arms because the words “gang rape’’ were included. Actually, how the quote could have been misconstrued boggles the mind. It was clear to me that Goodkind was saying that democracy in its purest/basest form could lead to mob rule. Yet some words were taken out of context, attributed to the MP and there were demands that he clarify whether he was for or against gang rape! Sheesh. Frankly, some responses were way out of line.

I actually wondered why he felt the need to apologise for “the unintended offence which the posting caused’’. If people deliberately choose to be obtuse and read all sorts of things into what’s been said, what can one do?
I suppose the heat got to him especially after he supposedly sent a letter of demand to another Facebook poster who circulated a meme about him. Now the interesting thing is this: ST indicated that he sent the letter of demand but TODAY told a different story. He prevaricated when asked about this. Go read TODAY. So it’s not clear if he was the one who sent the letter or someone else his name. Odd.

Mr Zainuddin’s mistake was in not engaging those who asked for clarification. Surely that would have been the right thing to do instead of merely taking down the post and hope that everything goes away? And if he did send the letter of demand to cease and desist, well, that’s a silly thing to do.

Politicians who want to get on social media must expect to engage people, both those for and against them. And they must realise that sharing quotes from luminaries can be read in many ways. Why this quote or that quote from X, Y or Z? Just because it sounds good? Pithy? Resonates with your line of thinking? Several posters do this, but a politician must realise that they are not ordinary Facebook posters. Why did you post this quote at this time? Is there some deeper message you want to send across? Is this with reference to something happening at this time?
Anyway, looks like all of us who use social media have a lot to learn. May we demonstrate that civil society can be civil after all.

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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