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Reasons Why 988 DJ Jamal and CEO Were Sacked



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Sep 10 2010
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You can read (or feel) when the Malaysian ruling government is going to call a snap election, if only you’re sensitive to the “pulse” of the latest happenings. Radio station 988FM (98.8 FM) is perhaps the most popular radio channel amongst the Chinese community in the country and ever since the 988’s breakfast show “Hello Malaysia” was launched the audiences simply spiked up. It was estimated that over 2 million listeners tuned in to the now-controversial show.

Star RFM Sdn Bhd which owns the 988 Chinese Radio Station and hosted the show is a subsidiary of public-listed The Star Publications (M) Bhd (KLSE: STAR, stock-code: 6084) which in turns belongs to political party MCA. And when the popular show’s host, Jamaluddin Ibrahim, who is not only of Malay-ethnic but speaks Beijing’s level of Mandarin, offended the “Big Bosses” who walk the corridors of powers, there can only be one conclusion – the “Exit Door”.

Jamaluddin CEO Wong Lai Ngo 

988 CEO Wong Lai Ngo (left) and Jamal (right) during happy time

 

Jamaluddin 988 CEO Wong Lai Ngo Sacked

 Former 988 CEO Wong Lai Ngo (right) and Jamal (left) showed their termination letter

The original “Hello Malaysia” (“Zhao Dian Shuo Ma”) show started with two hosts namely Jamaluddin Ibrahim (or popularly known as Jamal) and Hsu Guo Wei. Between the both, Guo Wei was more apparent in his “freedom of speech” against the ruling government policies (especially during Ong Tee Kiat’s presidency). There was unconfirmed rumour that Jamal betrayed Guo Wei that caused the latter to be taken out (or sacked?) early into the show. But both are now sacked because they spoke against the master’s unwritten law – criticism against ruling government is not allowed regardless of the truth.

988 Radio Station Pioneer Hosts

The Original Hosts of popular “Hello Malaysia” show. Left (Jamal), Right (Hsu Guo Wei)

 

Interestingly (although not surprisingly) Jamal was asked to go on leave indefinitely prior to the sacking because MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission) issued a letter to the radio station stating that his (Jamal) comments during the show contained “inappropriate language that the listeners found to be offensive” (whatever that mean). Now that Jamal and the station’s CEO Wong Lai Ngo have been sacked, contents of the termination letter roughly stated the following:

“The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission claimed the company had breached licence conditions 10.2 and 10.3 during a programme aired on Aug 13.

The company therefore holds you, as the presenter/producer, accountable and responsible for the said breach/offence and other breaches.

With that, we regret to inform you that your employment with the company is terminated with immediate effect”

 

Condition 10.2 states: “The licensee shall not provide any content which may upset the sensibilities and sentiment of any race or religion in this country.”

Condition 10.3 states: “The licensee shall not provide any content which contains cultural and moral values that are against the community aspirations of the nation.”

 

However the sacked Jamal and Wong claimed they were not given any opportunity to defend themselves and there was no evidence that they violated 10.2 and 10.3 of the licence conditions. So what could be the reasons the axe landed on both heads?

Some of the reasons:

  1. Jamaluddin was known to pro the previous MCA president Ong Tee Kiat while critical of Chua Soi Lek. Hence logically when Chua defeated Ong and took over the MCA presidency it was payback time. Chua denied being the hidden hand in terminating the show but every Tom, Dick and his dog know it’s him who directed MCMC to monitor the show.
  2. Audience can still remember how the show’s co-host Qiu Yue was sobbing when Jamal was suspended and together with another co-host Joe Liaw both were literally asking for support from listeners for support. Such an act is seen as a challenge and you don’t think a politician like Chua Soi Lek who was out of politics temporarily due to his Sex-VCD scandal would give-in, do you?
  3. On the day the alleged offence took place, the programme host had interviewed popular columnist Ou Yang Wen Feng on racial discrimination, a topic which can only be discussed secretly and behind the door in Malaysia lest you wish to spend your life behind bars.
  4. On the day the show was allegedly broke the license conditions, “Hello Malaysia” show was also airing responses on a hawker who tried to set himself on fire at Komtar in Penang. Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng who is also from the opposition was given an interview, something which is not permitted since the radio station belongs to MCA. Being critical of Chua is already a taboo but to invite opposition and give him a free interview (publicity) is simply too much as far as narrow-minded government is concerned.
  5. The last and most importantly, Najib’s administration is set to call for a snap election sometime middle of next year 2011. The huge audience attracted to the show is worrying as from the feedback it seemed most are negative towards the current ruling government’s silly policies and political gimmicks to win over Chinese voters.

 

While Star RFM chairman Linda Ngiam denied the suggestion Jamal and CEO Wong Lai Ngo removal were due to political pressure, Wong said she was grilled by Linda Ngiam over the decision to interview Lim Guan Eng, which “made the big boss very unhappy”. Of course sitting on the comfort chair as chairman, you can expect Linda to be too chicken to do anything to back her staffs up.

Where was Linda when the radio station made huge amount of money from advertisements due to the show’s popularity, before the Big Boss from MCA get offended and use the axe? Why Star RFM didn’t challenge and bring MCMC to court but instead accepted MCMC’s findings as if it was a bible? Furthermore Jamal is not the “licensee” as specified in Condition 10.2 and 10.3. If it’s true that both Condition 10.2 and 10.3 has been breached then the party liable should be Star RFM radio station itself and not DJ Jamal. Of course Jamal is a better scapegoat, isn’t he?

 988 Radio Station Jamal

Interestingly, Jamal is the son of former Malayan Communist Party (MCP) leaders Shamsiah Fakeh and Ibrahim Mohamad. Both his parents lived in exile in China hence Jamal spent much of his early life in China. Born in Beijing, Jamal’s family was allowed to return to Malaysia in the mid-90s. The fact that a son of former communist party can debate and swing the Chinese audience faster and better than the MCA president himself must have scare the hell out of the sex-actor, I suppose.

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