Batu Burok shooting: Head-hunting for a red herring

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Today's Star splashed a story about the head-hunting spree of both MCA and Umno of Terengganu. MCA Youth offered RM3,000 while Umno Youth came up with RM5,000 to person(s) who can help in the arrest – and consequent punishment – of the so-called 'flag-burner'. The 'people's paper' also carried mugshots of nine people who, according to the police, can help in their investigation of the recent 'riot' in Batu Burok in Terengganu.

The burning of the national flag is generally frowned upon by most Malaysians and therefore the identity of person(s) involved in the alleged burning is quite crucial. However, the way this aspect of last weekend's incident is being reported and amplified by much of the mainstream media in the country leaves us wondering whether this is a deliberate attempt at diverting attention from the shooting of two men, who are now in hospital with serious injuries.

It looks as though no mainstream newspaper worth its salt has tried to find answers to some of the questions arising from this incident. How were they shot and what is the status of their physical conditions? What are their personal accounts of what happened? What about other eyewitness accounts?

Aren't the lives of these two people important? Or are these two individuals deemed by the mainstream press to be nondescript because the incident was, to quote Parliamentary Speaker, 'only a riot'? Shouldn't the major newspapers be doing what they're supposed to do? No, not shrugging off their social responsibility, but conducting investigative journalism, that is if this is not a dirty concept among the editors and owners of the major newspapers.

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