A few pro-government blogs had recently bombarded The Star, writer Helen Ang and group editor-in-chief Wong Chun Wai for showing 'signs of inclination' toward the opposition pact, and in this case the DAP.
I am not sure if the writers do know WCW in person or The Star's policy but one thing I am sure of, the three (WCW especially) are for Barisan Nasional and PM Najib's administration. Helen, an ex-Star is a critic writer - while supporting BN, she also criticises any policy deemed as not bringing any good result to the country.
Home Minister Hishammuddin recently came under my sharp criticism over the failure of the 6P program in addressing the issue of foreign workers in the country, and he was okay about it. Foreign Minister Anifah too is among my favorite target. In fact, I had on many occasions criticised PM, his deputy and few Cabinet members over certain issues.
As an Umno member, I believe I am among a few bloggers who give so much attention in observing and writing about the party, pointing to its weaknesses and complacency and the manner in which it is being led. And the response from the top leadership and the grassroot members are always positive.
I am of the opinion that we cannot become 'yesmen' to everything that the government does and introduce. As some policies augur well to the national upkeep, the rest need to be reviewed. Nodding to the bosses perhaps is the trait among majority of the civil servants, notably the seniors as they simply don't want to give the impression that whatever they do is backfiring.
To me, this is bad. However, in shooting out our criticism, we must also be able to line our logic and good counter-argument as to how such a policy should be administered. And in some cases, I found that my view is well-accepted.
The Star belongs to MCA, a key component of Barisan Nasional. MCA will not betray the spirit of cooperation within BN, neither will it allow The Star editorial team to run the newspaper to their whim and fancy.
Like any other pro-government newspapers, I believe The Star puts business above all. While the Media Prima group (New Straits Times and Berita Harian) and Utusan Malaysia seem to be 'punctual' in their attacks against the opposition, The Star gives a little space to Pakatan Rakyat.
Those who read The Star everyday will notice this but that does not condemn the newspaper as being pro-opposition. Its not fair at all to accuse WCW and his editorial team of becoming a set of tools for Pakatan propaganda.
When the paper published a few line story about Ong Kian Ming's entry into DAP, it was just another form of news, just like when other papers carried stories about Zaid Ibrahim leaving Umno and forming Kita, and Lajim Ukin joining the opposition.
A news is just another news. Although readers have options in sourcing it, mainstream newspapers are always sought. For English, The Star and NST are the major ones but readers who look for balanced-reporting would go for The Star.
I don't buy too many newspapers. I usually opt for one English and one Bahasa. In supporting the government, I must also keep abreast with happenings on the other side. News about the opposition movement is also important as it helps me in my writing and keeping track of the domestic politics.
To me, pooling only for pro-BN news will not help in our political strategy to counter any of their assault. In inculcating reading habit among the people, we should not bar them from reading such news because it helps mature them, both socially and politically.
And its not fair at all for me to label those reading Harakah, Roket or Suara Keadilan as being pro-opposition! Do you?
WCW is always a pro-government journalist. Accusing her of being pro-opposition is also not very right as she is very supportive of the blog that lambasts the opposition, notably Lim Guan Eng in Penang, Stopthelies. She also accuses The Star of being pro-DAP but stems out from her personal grudges against The Star and WCW.
The Star is a good newspaper in the sense that it caters to both sides of the readers. Although it may allocate between 2 per cent to 3 per cent of its space to the opposition news, it helps in maintaining a good circulation and a vibrant advertisement revenue, unlike other newspapers that saw reeling income due to over obsession in politics.
The Star, which employs a few thousand staff, is happy to keep a bulging purse and share it with shareholders and employees. A little opposition news is a fine balance because some of the companies taking up the advertisement are also sitting on the opposition bench.
Without good revenues, The Star will not be able to offer higher salaries and better perks to its staff. I remember during my tenure with a newspaper company, some pro-opposition companies and corporate figures did take up the advertisement space, contributing to almost 30 per cent of the newspaper's monthly nett income.
And what's wrong with that?
The Star honors and place employees as its most valuable asset. And to reward them, the management has to work hard in securing a stable and good revenue which will be translated into employees' remunerations. While The Star can afford to offer a six-month bonus to its staff, other publications can only manage a two-month, and while other newspapers see declining revenue from advertisements, The Star is still riding high.
I don't think the government is offended with the small space The Star gives to the opposition news. In fact in journalism, any news is just news and everybody deserves the rights to read a balanced-report. I don't call The Star as a balance newspaper as almost 97 per cent of its news content is attributed to BN and non-opposition stuff.
Helen is just another difficult case but we may find many 'Helen' at NST, BH, Utusan and other publications. We have some pro-Anwar journalists serving NSTP and Utusan, and so are some senior government servants who enjoy high monthly salaries from the Public Service Department but clawing back at the government.
Are we denying all this?
So, accusation is the rights of the accuser but making wild accusation without any tangible proof and bona fide reasons will reflect how naive we are at ascertaining our words. We need to be fair and take every aspect of it into our consideration.
I believe should Pakatan Rakyat takes over Putrajaya after the next general election (I am against this idea), The Star will remain strong - in keeping its business and protecting the interest of its thousand employees. I am not sure about others.
Politics aside, I believe The Star is and will forever support the government but at the same time puts the interest of its employees and shareholders on the back of a good and strong business footings.