The Communist Party of Malaya, never slow to exploit a situation, is drawing recruits and support from the discontented Chinese population who had suffered during the recent crisis. While the aged women and children are satisfied with welfare and relief measures undertaken by the Government and voluntary bodies to ameliorate their plight, the young are being courted by Communist cadres. The recent disturbances are explained to them in terms of Malay guns and Chinese victims.

Externally, they benefit from the inaccurate and unfavourable reporting of some foreign newspapers. Some foreign mass media sometimes unwittingly aid the Maoists in their long-term plans to disrupt the unity in the country.

Apart from unwittingly assisting the Maoists, some foreign mass media, the British and Americans being more noticeably so than others, did a great deal of harm to Malaysians of Chinese origin through slanted reporting. Reports which appeared in certain sections of the foreign press were based more on rumours than on hard facts. This was possibly due partly to the dearth of accurate information during the initial


days of the disturbances. But it cannot be denied that a few foreign correspondents quite enthusiastically accepted wild allegations by certain racial groups as factual. Apart from sensational reporting, even some captions to photographs were obviously erroneous. For example, a photograph showing members of the security forces and armed Malays near the mosque on Jalan Hale was interpreted as Military collusion with the rioters. The facts, revealed by careful investigation, are that the soldiers had successfully contained the Malays; the photographs were taken just before the men were disarmed and returned to their respective villages. Had they been manhandled or shot in the mosque, particularly when they had offered no resistance to the security forces, a nation-wide religious riot would have erupted, with very grave consequences.

Sections of the foreign press also conveyed the impression that the Chinese were a "persecuted minority". This only helped to contribute to the feeling of insecurity and desperation among the Chinese in Malaysia. In some way it had a great deal to do with the Sino-Malay incidents in Singapore which soon followed. Not only was the situation inaccurately represented in some reports, they also completely overlooked the degree of acceptance which the Chinese have won for themselves in this country among the Malays. Besides the adverse effects on the question of race relations


within the country the dishonest reporting could easily have brought about a misunderstanding between Malaysia and some foreign powers. This was averted only through intensive efforts in diplomacy with the cooperation and understanding of the Missions of these countries in Kuala Lumpur.


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