KUALA LUMPUR, April 15 — The Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) has backed its chairman Raja Petra Kamarudin, claiming today that his exclusive interview with TV3 aired this week was “spin doctored” for tomorrow’s Sarawak election.
MCLM President Haris Ibrahim said the two-part interview aired during prime time on Wednesday and yesterday was heavily edited and distorted in favour of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, to give him a “squeaky clean” image to the people in rural Sarawak, who have only access to mainstream media, ahead of the state vote.
“The fact is that the quotes by RPK in the heavily edited video recordings have been taken out of context and this has caused the message to be grossly distorted.
“RPK has time and time again commented on this issue via video recordings and through his postings on his news portal Malaysia Today and in various other media. Based on these, it is obvious that the essence of what he actually said had been edited out of the aired video clips, giving a totally erroneous perception,” he told a press conference here.
Haris also pointed out the discrepancies between Raja Petra’s sound bite and the voice over in between.
“I challenge TV3 to put up on YouTube or on any media the full interview, unedited,” he said.
Haris said the interview was taped some time in February this year, according to Raja Petra, in a brief phone conversation this morning.
“What has now been spun is that Anwar’s aides fed this information to give the impression that there was a conspiracy involving all these named individuals to block Najib’s ascension and that is the impression sought to be given by the mainstream media,” said the veteran human rights lawyer.
According to the transcript, Raja Petra said he received the information from individuals linked to several politicians, including Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, as well as Nik Azmi Nik Daud, John Pang and blogger Din Merican.
“All RPK sought from Din Merican was to seek confirmation as to the reliability of the individual and that is why again and again in his statutory declaration (SD) he says ‘I have been reliably informed’. He got confirmation as to the reliability of the individual but the information came from one source. This is media spin,” Haris said.
He also pointed out that nothing new was revealed in the exclusive interview.
“Raja Petra has been critical of Datuk Seri Anwar and the Opposition generally. Now, in this regard, there is nothing new Raja Petra had said here that has not been said over the last one-and-a-half years in his blog. There is nothing new. In fact, Raja Petra is not the only one. I have also been critical of the Opposition in my blog over the last one year,” he said.
Haris also hinted at the questionable timing of the interview, which aired only days before polling this Saturday for the Sarawak elections, although it was recorded in February.
“The suspicion of many thinking members of society is that this interview was distorted and edited for the sole purpose of distorting the truth to those in the longhouses in Sarawak who have no access to alternative news. This is the only reason why they have come out with this news report back-to-back to feed misinformation to the rakyat in the longhouses in Sarawak because there is an election that is due to take place tomorrow,” he said.
Haris admitted that he wasn’t aware of the interview when it took place and that it had “caught us all by surprise”.
“Quite frankly, if we had been alerted, we would have probably advised him not to entertain this request for an interview from TV3 or we would have advised the precaution of having our own videographer record the interview so that we could then expose the lies that the mainstream media had spun today.
“I can only assume that RPK, in his enthusiasm to get the truth out, perhaps, overlooked the inherent danger of entertaining liars,” he told reporters.
Haris said he is “still in the dark” about the content of the interview and he had spoken with Raja Petra briefly on Wednesday night and this morning, and that he is expecting a synopsis of what was said during the interview two months ago.
“We too are waiting to be appraised of the full extent of the interview which I understand is slightly more than one hour. What we’ve seen so far through the news broadcast is only about a little over 10 minutes. So what precisely was mentioned in the rest of the interview, we still are in the dark,” he said.
When asked to comment on Raja Petra’s decision to allow a pro-government television channel an exclusive interview, he said he couldn’t say for sure.
“I don’t want to speculate. I can only say to err is human.
“What the mainstream media has done, cannot shock me anymore. That doesn’t shock me because as I’ve said again and again, this is public enemy number one, MSM (mainstream media). When I watched the video clip, immediately knew that there was a major distortion of the message,” he said, adding that he had worked with the controversial blogger since 2006.
Haris said the timing and the treatment of the video came on the heels of a so-called jittery ruling coalition.
“The information we are getting from operatives on the ground is that DAP is doing extremely well in the urban seats, PKR has been working very hard in the rural longhouses and BN is running scared.
“We have been hearing about the goodies that are going to be dropped in the longhouses today and this has to be in furtherance of a serious attempt to misinform the rakyat that our prime minister is squeaky clean. He’s not,” he said.
Haris reiterated that MCLM and its leadership are still on the same path to “liberate this nation from an oppressive regime”.