Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Yasmin Ahmad: Journos angry over Kosmo article

Journalists in Malaysia often stay away from criticising the writings of another journalist, be it in another publication or an online portal. It's an unwritten rule. As much as we do not agree with the views or slant of the article, we refrain from voicing our unhappiness as we believe in the freedom of expression.

Those of us in the Malaysian media already have to grapple with so many laws that affect our profession, so the last thing we want to do is to take on another brother or sister from the same trade. But the recent article on Yasmin Ahmad in one publication has touched a raw nerve of many journalists. Yasmin, after all, worked with many in the media and advertising industries.

The said article in Kosmo on July 27 has led to a group of former and working journalists to send a protest letter to the management of the newspaper. It's unprecedented, as far as I can recall. Strong language has been used.

In the petition that has been circulated via email among the media, it said, among other things, "Yasmin's family was grieving and at their most vulnerable" and yet the newspaper "saw it fit to run a story that showed utter disregard for the late Malaysian filmmaker, her family and the many Malaysians, who still mourn her."

Referring to the article in question, the journalists - who started the ball rolling - noted that the article was written "less than 24 hours after she was buried at a time when her family was still reeling from the shock of her death."

At the same time, the associations representing the advertising agencies and advertisers are also acting against the newspaper and Penang-based Kwong Wah, which had translated that offensive article.

That again is unprecedented as punishment against a newspaper has often come from the government or a political group but never the advertisers, or via a protest from fellow journalists.

This blogger would not want to reproduce the article here as a mark of respect to Yasmin.

Like most Malaysians, we will remember Yasmin for her many legendary work. She deserves that respect, more than anything else. She was a human being and certainly she had her weakness and shortcomings, like everyone else.

But in her world, she wanted to bring out the decency of multi-racial Malaysians. Hers was a world of people divided into two kinds - the good and the bad. Not the colour of their skins or the languages they spoke. Let's keep that legacy alive.

I spoke to the reporters at Kosmo to hear their side of the story. They pointed out that they had paid their tribute to Yasmin, pointing out the many stories recognising her talent. The article on her past, they said, was merely to inform readers of the other side of Yasmin, which the readers were not aware.

The editor took my call politely and thanked me for my views and criticism. That's their side of the story. I do not think there was any malice but it was perhaps poor judgement on their part. There is also the question of human decency, which they have overlooked.


Anonymous said...

They cannot justify themselves by saying they need to inform the readers...and there's no malice intended since it was published right after her demise. It's a new low and I hope those fellas in KOSMO are happy now. I am a personal friend of Yasmin's brother and I can only imagine how painful this is for him & his family. There's no reason for them to run that article. What were they trying to achieve?? I can only come to one conclusion: To sell more thrash at the expense of the late legend.

Yasmin will always be cherished in our memory as a legendary filmaker, someone that was bold and courageous enough in potraying the true way of life for many M'sians in her works. AL-FATIHAH.

Anonymous said...

My take is that Malaysian journalists are already low. I guess Kosmo must be dirt for the journalists to take offense.

amoker said...

Utusan showed disrespect at the death of Kugan, Beng Hock and Yasmin. Look at their positioning in their articles. It is just an oversight?

Anonymous said...

wait a minute here. What about freedom of press that everyone is harping about? Are we asking for double standards when it does not suit you?

Freedom of press means you take the good as well as the bad that comes with it. It's the same freedom that allow ppl to bitch about Kosmo!'s article and for Kosmo to publish it. Quid Pro Quo.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous 5.40pm,

It is still the freedom of the press. None of us said we should ban the paper.

But as a reader, we will have the freedom to condemn irresponsible writings like this one.

We still have the right to boycott the paper, and educate everyone that some paper is there for the publicity and nothing else.

Thats all.

What is your understanding of the 'freedom of press'?


Anonymous said...

i have not read the kosmo article to determine if there is any malice intended but this i believe, is the more pertinent issue.

in islam it's a question of how the individual is buried - as a man or a woman. there is a significant difference.
the laws may have/not permitted an individual to undergo a sex change but these laws do not apply to islam.
we as human being may accept a he as a she or a she as a he, but that does not mean it can be tolerated by religion.
things like this are not to be taken lightly and it is the family's responsibility to see to it that these obligations are fulfilled.

Suci Dalam Debu said...


For once I have to agree with you 100%.

Since this is a "free" society, I support the boycott of Utusan and Kwong Wah for being so insensitive and bad timing.

Anonymous said...

i'm so sure that someone would've use the 'freedom of speech' 'freedom of press' line, i should've bet on it.

it seems that most ppl are stupid, thinking with their kneecaps instead of the brain.

freedom of speech doesn't mean you can say and write whatever you want. the so-called freedom comes with responsibility. i think the responsibility part is hard to grasp by certain people (read: start using your brain la weh!)

i have no idea what these people are if they have no common sense and ethics.


Anonymous said...

freedom of speech and freedom of press doesnt mean you can say whatever you wish? right? you have freedom,not impunity, remember?

"ladies first" doesnt mean lady go die first to protect her husband or become the cannon fodder right?

you speak english, but no sense.

Anonymous said...

Managing PR for Kosmo

Obviously it hasn’t hit a raw nerve with you. You have crafted a response that most readers would best describe as insignificant; at worst – a public relations exercise for Kosmo. Lets look at what you have written:

• Yasmin is like any other human being with weakness and shortcomings, like everyone else (Tactic: lets bring people back to an even keel)

• Look at the other side of the story (Tactic: objectivity)

• It was not malicious (Tactic – you have spoken to the other side and know the real motive)

• It was poor judgement and human decency overlooked (Tactic – gentle knock on the knuckles….to suggest that nothing despicable/harsh took place)

Nice…very nicely put. Right is right..and wrong is wrong. What Kosmo did was despicable…it is simple as that. too have adhered to the unwritten rule of not criticizing the writings of another journalist, however despicable he/she may be.

Anonymous said...

freedom of press is now becoming freedom of loud mouth. When it hits the journalists, evertyhing else does not matter even the ethics and the morals.
Talk about fairness and equality in journalism and now become fairness and equality to journalist.

Bunnies said...

I just dont get these people!

What is there to inform?! For the love of all that's holy, She's gone! Whatever she was or wasnt, what difference does it make? I personally dont think it matters even if she was alive, what more now that she is gone. So what if she was a he before? Even if this is true, will it change the fact that she was a very giving and loving person? Who are we to judge? Who are we to criticize? Does it really matter anymore?

Why can't we just see a person as a person for who she/he was and not whether that person is a he or she or yellow or brown or black or white or purple or burgundy!

Such journalism is an insult to human kind! I dont know about you people but as a human, you dont do such demeaning act.. "gossip about the dead"! It is so..soo.. sooo.. beyond wicked! just to sell a few more copies of newspaper!

Like that la.. such journalist should be put in ISA! Talk nonsense and causing unncessary pain for their own pleasure! Mad!

Anonymous said...

Have a heart. Yasmin leaves behind a daughter. Let her mourn and grieve her lost in peace. My heart goes out to her and family. Shame on you Kosmo!

klubbkidd said...

I have mention this in Facebook groups and on my blog as well.

No.. it is not untrue, nor is it even 'unethical'. But if it f**king insensitive for them.

if they had really intended to 'inform' they would not have pointed her past - or even if they can justify that, gone beyond to explain more which did not play with society's taboos and stigma.

i believe the tributes were genuine. some of them are my peers in the entertainment industry.

what is a pain is the angle of the headline on the front page as well as the article on page 2 which could have interviewed a whole host of people who were close to yasmin - but instead played up a comment by one that served their purpose.

freedom of speech? we're talking about human decency here.

Anonymous said...

i thought that u had better words and being a christiAn... who r we to JUDGE? u r no difference to the rest too! kindly go to You-tube and watch her interview in Singapore on Muallaf and also the recent one from the STAR where she spoke on 1malaysia. No wonder it is common for Journalist to report 'hurting statements' rather than healing. Is there such a word as CONSCIENCE in the field of journalism? is it fun to laugh at people? i suppose these happened in bolihland especially among the elite gp n those their brains parked somewhere. Go n read the KORAN and Tao Te Ching which is Yasmin 1st and 2nd favourite books. See how beautiful she explained the 2 books.
since we have gutter politics, now we have some gutter journalism too.

Chauncey Gardener said...

The only question that should be asked is whether Kosmo's article was based on fact.

Your posting doesn't mention that and all we still have is innuendo.

If it is not fact, then Kosmo is certainly being malicious.

Old Fart said...

I am glad and proud to see that you have called the editor of Kosmo over this Yasmin matter.

What about you making a similar call to Kosmo's parent company and your compatriot over there over the inciteful articles they keep regurgitating just to maintain a certain amount of suspicion, hate, antagonism deriving from their "right" to "being" superior!!?

Ren Cheok said...

i came to your blog to read the kosmo article but you choose not to reproduce it. i am dissapointed. i'm going elsewhere to read it. who are you to judge what is offensive for me ?

jo said...

if Kosmo really feels obligated to inform the people of the "other side" of yasmin, why couldn't they do it when yasmin was still around. Then she could choose to response or not on the matter.
Was the research and investigation done after she died or it has been in Kosmo's closet for a long time and it was only published after yasmin has left this world.
As a muslim, I think Allah loves His servants no matter what he/she did in this world. Some may get better rewards, some less. It's for Him to decide not for us to question.
may Allah bless yasmin's soul and those who have returned to Him.

Anonymous said...

shame on all those negativity re the late yasmin ahmad. we are all creatures of god, given a brain to decide how we live our lives.
focus on her work and the legacy she left behind. look at the poignant message of her commercials and her films.
are we that blind or let he who has not sinned cast the first stone.
enough......let her soul rest in peace.
al fatihah

fan in london

Anonymous said...

everybody loves yasmin but we can't deny that the article speaks the truth, to say it as inappropiate, imagine all juicy story you all reader have been reading in the newspaper all this time.. because of what? those people are stranger to you and then, it's okay to know publicly about their flaw and unperfectness, It's a sad reality we are living but nobody is an angel.. and about the boycot thing, i think the reader should never read any news from any media.. to have a peace in this world.

--anyway, i will always regard yasmin as a great artist, that's it--

Anonymous said...

When she was still alive, Yasmin has been in the limelight for myriad of reasons. Just mention the name Yasmin Ahmad, then so many Malaysians knew about her works.

If it is so important for others to know about her private life, those journos should have publish the story - when Yasmin was still around, at her peak of her career and stardom and when she is able to response if she wishes to do so.

But Noooo, that would not be sensational enough!

A rational person can gauge the response of the public including Yasmin's friends and family. The journos definitely knew. And, at worst, they only have to publish an apology.

But, the most important thing to them is that the crap tabloid sold like goreng pisang panas that day.

Like the young generations now said - masyuk beb. Kayo, kayo!

xenobiologista said...

People who cite "freedom of the press" in defending Kosmo are forgetting 2 things:

1) In Malaysia, there is no such thing as freedom of the press due to the Printing Presses and Publications Act.

2) Spider-Man's saying that "with great power comes great responsibility". Being a publication with a wide circulation means having the power to influence the thoughts and emotions of many people. So even if it's 100% legal to publish something, the writer and the editors should be ashamed of themselves for attacking a much-loved public figure who just passed away because it's DESPICABLE. I do not believe we must always speak well of the dead (e.g. Adolf Hitler), but Yasmin was no such criminal.

bibliobibuli said...

"freedom of the press" is something none of us would want to argue with here.

but standards of journalism is another issue. KOSMO have shown themselves gutter-press wannabes along the lines of the british paper "news of the world" and readers have every right to complain. a boycott isn't a ban lah!

it was a tactless and opportunistic post, not so much because of its content as its timing. what a double whammy of shock her grieving fans must have felt!

IF the content of it is true, then we can applaud Yasmin's strength and courage the more, and extend our love and understanding to others who find themselves in the same predicament.