By Thomas Samuel :-
I refer to the article published on a news portal on May 30, 2015 bearing the heading, “Another bright student denied chance to further her studies”.
Such news is important and I am sure the Indian community in particular and Malaysians in general are concerned with such issues. This should not be happening in Malaysia where every student is given the opportunity to pursue their studies based on merit in government-run schools, colleges and institutions of higher learning.
The student in question, T Darshini, is surely a deserving case and should rightfully be given an opportunity to further her education by the Ministry of Education.
I believe the matter was resolved expediently with the direct involvement of the Deputy Minister of Education II, P Kamalanathan. In fact, the Tamil media carried this news even before the article was published on this particular online news portal. Based on reports in the Tamil media, there was no question about Darshini’s right as a citizen of Malaysia since her father is a Malaysian and is married to an Indian citizen. Darshini also holds a MyKad to prove her citizenship.
Obviously there was a lapse in updating her documentation that resulted in this mistake by the Selangor Education Department. The media had done its part in highlighting the issue and the matter had been amicably resolved. In fact, Kamalanathan personally visited Darshini and her parents at their home and handed over the letter of offer to her to continue her education at a government institution of her choice (posted on Kamalanathan’s Facebook page).
Being a public relations practitioner, I believe the media has an important role in highlighting these matters to the authorities to ensure the right of every citizen is protected and also to act as the mouthpiece of the general public in a fair and honest manner.
There is also journalism ethics to adhere to and fundamental among them is to speak the truth – “Truthfulness – Journalists need to make a commitment to telling the truth. This includes not giving false or made-up reports, and telling truthful stories that are not intended to deceive the audience. This may require reporters to provide not only the facts but also the context surrounding them. Truthfulness requires a commitment not only from the journalist but also from the organisation he or she works for.” (Taken from “Mass Communication: Living in a Media World” by Ralph E Hanson) It is therefore uncalled for that the writer made sweeping statements about MIC and the Deputy Minister without first checking the facts.
I googled the Deputy Minister’s name and there were a host of platforms to reach the Deputy Minister but the writer chose to assume and condemn an individual and the political party he represented without checking.
This is surely bad journalism and as it is commonly said in the media fraternity, “If you cannot confirm a fact, do not write it.”
Does the online news portal have the humility, credibility and responsibility to offer an apology to the Deputy Minister? And I also wonder, if an apology is indeed made, would an article on the matter be published on this portal?
If it is published, I will have the utmost respect and trust for this online news portal in regard to its journalism ethics and professional conduct.
Thomas Samuel is the Past Honorary Secretary of Institute of Public Relations Malaysia.
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