Letters to the Editor

Dear readers,

Below are just two out of several criticisms (edited for grammar and brevity) we’ve received from readers after we featured an exclusive interview with Khairy Jamaluddin (see A tempered view) on Feb 23, the day before nomination day.

Thank you for taking the trouble to write to us. As an outfit that believes in being kept accountable, we think it’s important to respond to these criticisms.


From: mob1900
Feb 24, 5:21 AM

KJ will do “anything” to propel himself into power, and here we have even alternative media featuring him. I think most of us are more interested or our empathies are with the REAL Rembau representative, Chegubard, compared to this Great Pretender. KJ himself is an extreme perverted product of NEP, to feature him is to condone ways of extreme bias, non-transparency and corruption of the highest level.

Please do not waste our time doing a feature on this brat knowing he will be all over the MSM (mainstream media) in the next two weeks. Give your space and time to the real underdogs. After all, we bloggers are called Alternative Media for a reason.

To Danny: Did he give you a ride in one of those luxury SUVs? Or promise you a position…Stop thinking like MSM….

From: wan
Feb 24, 11:21 AM

I am absolutely [devastated]. How naive can I be? I totally, totally bought the idea of this site [coming into] being to cover what is ignored in the mainstream. I thought, great, an inch towards levelling the playing field in election coverage.

I had great hopes. I even bookmarked it to watch for potential evidence for my thesis. If anyone can’t find any Khairy coverage in the mainstream, they must be blind. Quite blind. This site is like an election promise, the one promised to Jacqueline Ann Surin. Remember?

End of excerpts

Firstly, we’d like to point out that as a news site, we will try our best to provide content that is written and edited according to the journalistic standards of fairness, accuracy, balance and accountability. We didn’t set out to be a site which was partisan or which wanted to promote one particular view only. We started out to be a news site that would provide space for as wide a spectrum of legitimate and interesting views as possible on the issues we cover. That, after all, can only be good for democracy.

In our About Us, we said we would “provide news about the main issues that the nation is grappling with as we go to the polls, as well as news on the elections that would not gain either the attention of or fair coverage from the traditional media in Malaysia.” We said we would do this by focusing on hot seats, the fight in rural Kelantan and noteworthy independent candidates.

Whatever our personal views about Khairy Jamaluddin, he is a phenomenon in this election that has made the Rembau parliamentary seat he is contesting a hot seat that people are watching. Yes, he may get acres of coverage in the mainstream press but MalaysiaVotes.com didn’t promise to only cover news that didn’t get mainstream media coverage. We promised to give as fair a coverage as possible to our three focus areas, and hot seats are one of them.

Good journalism requires that no matter what our personal beliefs and leanings, we will still endeavour to provide space in our writing for all legitimate stakeholders and views. Does Khairy benefit from being in the camp that has friendly and established media on its side? Of course he does. But that doesn’t negate the fact that he is still a legitimate stakeholder in this election, and that his views and vision (whether we agree with them or not) are important aspects of his political life that Malaysians should know about.

There’s also criticism that we have failed to be an alternative to the mainstream media. The notion of “alternative” here suggests that there is no good journalism in the traditional media, and that there is no bad journalism in the online media. We know from experience that good, and bad, journalism exists in both media.

We promised to strive as hard as we could to practise good journalism online. And good journalism requires that we strive to feature all sides of a story, all aspects of an event, all shades of an argument. It requires us to have a good mix of different stories and views so that readers can have a fuller picture of an issue and come to their own conclusions about whose views are legitimate or credible.

There’s also a suggestion that because journalist Danny Lim rode with Khairy’s entourage to Rembau, that his journalistic integrity and independence have been compromised. That is, of course, a legitimate concern. But, Danny rode with Khairy’s entourage because he needed to get a story. Journalists sometimes hop into the car with the person we need to interview because that’s the only chance we might get to speak with the person, especially if the person is running a super-tight schedule.

We wanted the Khairy story, and so we went after it. When Danny was offered an opportunity to catch Khairy on the trail by riding in his entourage, we all agreed that it was an opportunity we couldn’t afford to miss out on because we might not have another chance to interview this young and upcoming politician. Having said that, Danny’s expenses, in particular his hotel stay in Seremban, are borne by MalaysiaVotes.com, not Khairy’s election machinery.

All a reader needs to do to judge our journalistic integrity is to measure the quality of the interviews we conduct and the issues we write about. Indeed, we believe we should be taken to task if we don’t ask critical questions or if we report unfairly and inaccurately. And where we do err, we are committed to make corrections and learn from that.

But we don’t believe that just because we featured someone who will likely get mainstream media coverage, or that our journalist followed Khairy in his entourage in order to get a story done, we have reneged on what we set out and promised to do.

The MalaysiaVotes.com Team

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