29 August 2008

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.

Wednesday August 13, 2008
News break of a different kind
In the developed world, where information assaults you everywhere, it comes as a relief that the recent headline events unfolding in Malaysia hardly merits a mention.

YOU would think that in these days of information overload, you’d have to hide in a cave somewhere remote in order to escape any news about our beloved Malaysia.

But in fact I did not have to do that at all when I was on a break recently.

I was in the middle of the developed world, where information is hardly difficult to come by, where it almost assaults you from everywhere.

You have TV, newspapers, advertising billboards flashing you news almost wherever you go. There is no escape.

But where did Malaysia figure in all this? Nowhere. Which may come as a relief to most of us, given the general unsavoriness of recent events.

On the other hand, it may mean that there is simply no news about our country worth reporting on.

What we might consider a disaster of a country right now isn’t bad news enough to warrant a mention at all in Western newspapers. There might be some who ask why we should care at all.

Indeed, we are certainly well covered in our neighbours’ papers. But is any of it positive?

Is the tone one of envy at our successes or general smirking at our rapid decline?

No doubt it was a week in which trying to get any column space or airtime was particularly difficult.

The two biggest stories in the week I was away were Obama’s rockstar-like tour of Europe and the capture of Radovan Karadjic, the Butcher of Bosnia.

One good guy and one bad guy are a bit hard to beat.

Almost a quarter of a million people turned up to listen to Obama when he spoke in Berlin, most of whom would never be able to vote for him.

Yet they looked like they wished they could.

The Americans know how to stage these things very well, building a catwalk in front of the Victory Column and working out all the best camera angles.

It almost became immaterial what he had to say; it was the image of Obama in front of that sea of people that was the message that his campaign team wanted to send back home: our boy is not only cool at home, he’s also cool overseas.

Why, no less than the President of France has pretty much endorsed him as his counterpart before a single American vote has been cast.

Indeed, before Obama has even been officially nominated as the Democratic candidate.

The Americans know everything about image building; we should learn a thing or two from them.

Also keeping foreign relations in mind was the Serbian government that suddenly “found” Radovan Karadjic after 13 years.

It turns out that all the while he had been in Belgrade, posing as a long-haired bearded alternative medicine practitioner, a species of folk normally associated with peace and calm, not the wholesale butchering of hundreds of thousands of people on the basis of their religion.

The reason he was finally captured was not because the new Serbian government had a sudden attack of conscience but because they wanted to curry favour with the European Union in order to join their august company.

Still it was nice to know that Karadjic won't be laying his “healing” hands on anyone anymore.

Meanwhile, Obama was doing some laying of hands of his own.

I watched him live on TV answering questions at something called the Unity Summit, a rather odd name for a conference of every type of journalist in the US, except white ones. But I must say he deftly answered some very tough questions.

The representative of the National Association of Native American Journalists asked if he was going to apologise to Native Americans for past wrongs perpetrated by the US government since the Australian and Canadian prime ministers had apologised to their own indigenous people.

He answered it pretty adroitly

by saying it’s better to raise their living standards and increase

their opportunities for advance-

ment than just to apologise for the past.

It made me wonder if we had a National Association of Orang Asli and Other Indigenous Malaysian Journalists to ask the same question of our leaders.

He handled the representatives of the National Associations of Hispanic, Asian-American and Muslim Journalists (“When are you going to visit a mosque, Senator?”) in similar vein.

It was interesting, insightful into his character, and quite entertaining.

Also, impressive, when you consider that he just got off the plane after a whirlwind tour of Europe.

Then I get home to a country where you have to wonder if even this mainstream newspaper was being ironic when they headlined a story on how some students had questioned our PM by saying they had “grilled” him.

And yes, it was the editors who had put the word “grilled” within single quote marks.