Malaysia

Suck up Singapore’s slam on safety, says Kadir Jasin

Singapore has been criticised by some Malaysian newspapers that make running down the Republic their daily bread and butter but it’s time to ’fess up and admit the Republic has a point, argues a former editor of a newspaper.            

Datuk Kadir Jasin, who used to head the New Straits Times, questioned what was so wrong about a Singapore newspaper writing negative things about Malaysia.

The New Paper, started by Singapore Press Holdings a quarter of a century ago, had carried a story on Wednesday with the headline "Malaysia, where death is cheap and staying alive costly".

The article also claimed it took a mere RM5,000 to hire a hitman in Malaysia. 

The Malaysian government condemned the Singapore paper for publishing what it called a misleading and sensational headline alleging that assassination was cheap in Malaysia. 

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman described the headline as mischievous and said it conveyed the wrong impression of the situation in Malaysia. 

Kadir defended the article in The New Paper saying that being a Singaporean newspaper, it had a responsibility to Singaporeans. 

"Since many Singaporeans live in Malaysia or visit the country, it is the paper's responsibility to warn its readers of the risk that they may face while in Malaysia," he said. 

In July last year, the family of former Singaporean television journalist Rita Zahara was kidnapped by a man with a pistol when they stopped along Jalan Susur Larkin in Johor. 

Rita had stopped to buy fruits at a stall, leaving her sister, two children and a maid in the car. A man jumped into the car and drove off with them inside. 

The suspect finally released the hostages after several hours of negotiations and RM200,000 in cash and valuables. 

In February 2011, a Singaporean businessman paid RM21 million after his family had been kidnapped while shopping in Johor. 

The kidnappers sent a picture of the businessman's wife, daughter and maid being held at gunpoint before demanding a S$50 million ransom. 

The businessman, involved in real estate and gaming, negotiated and paid a S$9 million ransom instead. His family was released unharmed. 

"Let us be honest, is it not a fact that Malaysia is becoming more and more dangerous? We shouldn't just blame the Singaporean media as our papers are replete with stories of murder and mayhem. 

"Crime stories are a staple of our newspapers and regularly make the front page," Kadir said. 

Kadir said he was willing to be accused of being an agent provocateur as he wanted to provoke Malaysians into thinking critically.  

He wanted them to be willing to tell their elected representatives what they felt and wanted – a safer Malaysia. 

"The government must accept culpability for their actions. Abolishing the preventive laws overnight released 2,500 hardcore criminals into the streets. 

"It is all right for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his advisers to gain popularity with city slickers by wanting to appear humane and liberal. 

"Perhaps it was a tactic to win urban votes. But did BN succeed? No, and instead the lives of ordinary rakyat are put at risk."   

Kadir said it was all right for Najib, his Cabinet and even MPs to do away with preventive laws as they have bodyguards and live in walled and guarded compounds. 

"They are detached from reality as they don't need to shop in Chow Kit road, ride crowded commuters and buses during rush hour or face traffic jams. 

"For some of these VIPs, their outriders have no qualms about forcing ordinary motorists off the road to make way for them and their spouses during peak hours." 

Bernama had reported that serious crimes involving former preventive law detainees had doubled in the first six months of this year, from 33 to 67. 

Kadir also questioned whether Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala was the best man to lead the drafting of the law to replace the abolished preventive laws. 

"If those involved in the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operations and Administration of the Police in 2005 were deemed not to have understood the Constitution, are we to believe Idris is better?"

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