These groups reportedly fear that viewing these movies might bring negative effects on community unity and
the future direction of the
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir
Mohamad, when asked by the media on
these calls, said there should be an
investigation of such programmes to find
out whether they actually influence the people.
Dr Mahathir's response is commendable because a knee-jerk reaction would not
provide an accurate picture of the situation.
Any foreign movies, whether Chinese or
Arabic, should be checked before they
Unlike its neighbours, Malaysia has been
liberal in its policy on TV programmes.
Of all the Asean TV stations, only ours
show movies for all ethnic and dialect
Singapore TV stations strictly enforce a
Chinese language-only policy, shutting
out the more popular Cantonese versions.
Astro has become popular among the
Chinese community in Malaysia because of
its few channels which offer entertainment
and news programmes from China,
Taiwan and Hong Kong.
One of its news programmes, tailored after CNN, provides news from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. But like all news programmes, it also
airs events from all over the
Most of the popular Hong Kong movies
aired on Astro channels are also readily
available on video tape.
For example, many Malaysians follow the
popular drama serial A Kindred Spirit on
Astro nightly but those who can't wait
to find out the next episode can rent
the entire series from video shops.
The drama, which emphasises family
values, is more popular than some of the
martial arts series.
Then there is the popular Journey to the West (II) series which stresses on good overcoming evil. Popular among children and adults, this series is based on popular
There should not be too much
generalisation made on the Astro
programmes, particularly from
those who do not even watch them.
A more systematic approach, as suggested
by Dr Mahathir, would give a clearer
picture of the overall content.
The emphasis should, perhaps, be on
quality programmes. For example, we can do away with those old low-budget kung fu movies and slapstick comedies which are being
To ensure more viewership of local TV programmes, Astro should perhaps be directed to set up a channel solely for local Chinese programmes, similar to Ria.
Although this will incur additional expenses, it would certainly be a boost to the local movie industry.
The channel could have Malaysian news programmes, similar to the Chinese news aired on RTM and NTV7.
While Malaysians may watch foreign news,
they would still follow local news as events in the country directly affect their daily lives. As the saying goes, all news is local.
In fact, many Malaysians follow CNN but
they also follow other news programmes
for regional content.
With the availability of the Internet and our promotion of the Multimedia Super
Corridor, it would be sad if we take a
step backward. The advance of the
multimedia and the information age can
no longer be stopped.
There will always be alternatives if curbs are imposed, even with the best intentions. It is better for the Government to take advantage of its
existing resources and tools, including
Astro, than to place restrictions.
PAS, for example, has reportedly said it
would invest in Internet television to
overcome the restrictions on its newsletter Harakah. The party plans to telecast interviews with
party leaders and special reports around the clock.
PAS said it was pushing itself further
into the Internet age, not only in
making Harakah more attractive on the Net but also in entering the world of
In the current controversy over Astro,
wrong signals should not be sent to the
Chinese community, who would be affected
by any wrong decision.
Their loyalty to the Government and
country is solid, as reflected in their
overwhelming backing for Barisan
Nasional in the recent general
More foreign movies, including those
from Asean countries and Europe, should
be shown by our TV stations.
To maintain its quality, Bahasa Malaysia
subtitles should be adopted to open up the minds of viewers.
Singapore, for example, has good
programmes and should be enjoyed by all Malaysians and not just Johoreans.
TV stations must take steps to promote
such programmes as the world is not just
Hollywood, Bollywood and Hong
NTV7 and TV3, for example, are
aggressively competing with Astro
which is good because competition always strengthens quality.
RTM2 and NTV7 should be commended for their Chinese news bulletins. To capture the viewership of the
Chinese community, more air time should
be given to these news programmes.
RTM2's City Focus, a programme on current issues, commands a strong following
because of its good presentation and
The concern of our policy-makers and TV stations should be to air quality programmes. If TV programmes are
popular, whether local or foreign, it's simply because they are well-produced.
This should be the criteria in reviewing Astro's programmes.
A debate on the foreign content of our
TV programmes is good but there should
also be some restraint. Moderation is how Malaysians resolve issues and it
should continue to be so, taking into
account the sensitivities of all