From Jakarta Post
Malaysia’s dirty politics reached a nadir last week when the local media reported on a new video featuring a man who looked like former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim having sex with a prostitute in a hotel room.
Coming at a time when Anwar is battling sodomy charges in court, it makes you wonder just really how low can it go.
The video was shown to a few journalists from the mainstream media who were selected and screened in a fashion worthy of a cloak-and-dagger novel.
The government-controlled media, which have played a key role in previous campaigns to discredit Anwar, violated every known ethical practice of journalism by providing graphic reports of the alleged “sex sojourn” without verifying the identities of the video’s subjects.
Typically, the source of the video was not disclosed, evoking the popular Indonesian (and Malay) saying lempar batu sembunyi tangan, which means “throw the rock, hide your hand”. No one took responsibility for screening the video, but the mainstream media played along and reported what their journalists saw.
Ever willing accomplices, the media broke one of the credos of journalism: Identify your sources, especially when making allegations as serious as this.
The Malaysian media did not bother to identify the man in the video. The mere suggestion that man looked like Anwar Ibrahim was enough to cast doubt on Anwar’s credibility and integrity in the supposedly puritan yet hypocritical society. Truth and verification go out window when you are part of a propaganda machine.
The media placed the onus on Anwar to disprove the claim, something which would likely keep him busy for the next several months or even years, certainly until the next general election.
We have seen this before when Anwar was first sentenced to prison for sodomy, only to have the Supreme Court to overturn his conviction in 2004.
Subsequently, new sodomy charges appeared and Anwar has been busy going to and from the courtroom.
Sex, media and video conspiracies define Malaysian politics today. It gets dirtier all the time.