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AW Malaysians Turn to The Sun
By Kapal Berita

30/9/2000 11:52 am Sat

Komen Ringkas:

Saya memetik rencana ini bukan kerana saya menyokong segala isi yang dipaparkannya. Ada bahagian yang say a kurang setuju. Tujuan utama rencana ini disiarkan adalah untuk membongkar nasib akhbar tempatan yang sudah di'ikat tangan'.

Perhatikan edaran NST yg merosot:

New Straits Times (NST) 163,287 turun 139,001 New Sunday TImes 186,918 turun 161,948.

Tahun ini sahaja terdapat beberapa petukaran 'imej' oleh NST - baik ketuanya mahupun hiasan dan cogankata akhbar mereka. Malangnya ia masih tidak berguna....

NST kini sudah menyiarkan waktu solat dimuka depan - Adakah ini dibuat setelah mereka membaca komen saya? Saya ada mengkritik mereka tidak lama dulu mengapa akhbar malaysia begitu malas mencetak jadual waktu solat tetapi rajin pula mencetak gambar2 yang memberahikan serta gambar botol arak. Selain itu kebanyakkan pengarang mereka bukan melayu atau menyamar nama bukan melayu?.

Kadir Jasin sudah dihantar menerajui Bernama beberapa minggu yang lalu. Kini ia dibawah pengurusan baru(a) tetapi isinya masih tidak laku. Sebabnya mudah sahaja - ada ulat dalam bulu.

Malaysians Turn to The Sun
How a newspaper tapped changing attitudes By SANTHA OORJITHAM Kuala Lumpur

The saga of Anwar Ibrahim may have just about disappeared from the pages of Malaysia's newspapers, but from his prison cell the former deputy premier is still shaping some publications' fortunes. The main loser, in circulation terms, has been the pro-government New Straits Times, which has paid the price for misreading the public mood about Anwar's dismissal and prosecution. The winner is the uppity, though still conservative The Sun, which has jumped into the middle ground vacated by the mainstream press.

Says Zaharom Nain, lecturer in Communication Studies at the Science University of Malaysia: "Some people switched to The Sun after the sacking of Anwar out of disgust with the way things were depicted in the mainstream media. The credibility of the Malaysian media is at its lowest. Readers are very cynical and want more critical reports, analysis and transparency - not just toeing the government line."

Launched in 1993, The Sun has been steadily increasing its readership and influence. Circulation rose from an average of 77,328 in June 1997 to 82,474 in June 1999 - a period that covers some of the major early moments of the Anwar drama. By comparison, sales of the 150-year-old New Straits Times (NST) daily fell from 163,287 to 139,001 in the same period. Sunday circulation dropped back from 186,918 to 161,948. Sales of the 29-year-old Star daily and Sunday were 235,641 and 262,306, respectively, in June 1999, both up.

The Sun is hoping to grow further this year. In changes that began in February, the tabloid has a new editor-in-chief (Ho Kay Tat), a new managing director (Tan Boon Kean), new owners (subject to approval, Phileo Allied's Tong Kooi Ong is taking over) and a new look (introduced in June for the Sunday edition and in August for the daily). "Give us one year for circulation to top 100,000," says managing director Tan. Michael Yeoh, CEO of the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute, also sees strong growth ahead. "The Sun has the potential to overtake the NST and could be a strong rival to the Star over the next five years," he says.

Sun executives believe expectations of what the media should be delivering have changed since the advent of straight-talking online publications such as Malaysiakini and Agenda Malaysia, which are not subject to government censorship. Sun readers are offered a wide range of opinions, particularly in the Sunday edition's Comment & Analysis section.

On Sept. 24, think-tanker Abdul Razak Baginda called for less crowing and a better sense of proportion about Malaysian achievements, lecturer and former merchant banker Radzuan Halim urged a cap on defamation awards, and social psychologist Askiah Adam declared that there was "no need" for a proposed Restoration of Islamic Faith Bill, which penalizes "deviationism" and apostasy. A week earlier, lawyer Karim Raslan had warned of "a fate that must not happen to us" - referring to Iranian and Pakistani friends' complaints about "embattled and deeply corrupt secular administrations clinging onto power, emboldened clerics and independent institutions crumbling under the weight of an unbridled executive."

(Komen... amat malang orang bernama Islam sendiri sanggup melihat orang melayu meninggalkan ugama (murtad) - jika fenomena itu berlaku kepada anak mereka sendiri apa agaknya rasa mereka. Bayangkan jika tak ada orang solat mayat untuknya...)

Syed Arabi Idid, a professor in the Communication Department at the International Islamic University of Malaysia, describes The Sun as "slightly better" than the mainstreamers on political coverage. He calculates that during last November's general elections, the NST and Star devoted 80% of their space to the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition. With The Sun, it was about 70% - not exactly balanced, but in a country where papers are sometimes craven in their support of the government, it almost passes as even-handed.

Editor-in-chief Ho says: "We try to report the news and avoid mixing editorializing with reporting. We know where the limits are. We try to push them but we also know when not to push." He admits to occasional "run-ins" with the owners over the treatment of certain stories, but insists the proprietors are not involved in day-to-day editorial operations. But the owners are not the only people the editorial bosses have to take into account. Newspapers are constrained by a yearly license required from the Home Ministry. And that can be a problem - as feisty alternative publications Ekslusif, Detik and Al-Wasilah found out. They went out of business this year when their licenses were not renewed.

If The Sun can avoid that kind of fate, its future may be shining bright. Lawyer Karim believes that once Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad leaves the political stage, the mainstream media will "take a big thwacking from the market." Ho says all he is thinking about is providing a new product for a new generation of Malaysians. But if Karim's prediction is proved correct, then The Sun will truly rise.