April 4, 2023
KUALA LUMPUR – I wish most of us didn’t have to depend on CNN and BBC for our world news, but our choices are really limited.
The regional media, including those in Malaysia, also depend on Western news agencies for international news.
Only these news agencies have the resources and ability to deliver breaking news swiftly to the world.
As much as Al-Jazeera and CGTN (China Global Television Network) try to compete, they can’t because their presentations seem to lack global flavour.
Al-Jazeera is owned by the monarchy government of Qatar.
It focuses more on the Arab world while CGTN is bereft of appeal because its reporting appears government-centric and serious.
So whether we like it or not, we’re left with CNN and BBC for world news on TV, but unfortunately, both have become arguably biased and unreliable, and have even gone overboard at times.
If we are to believe what CNN has been reporting, the Russians lost the war with Ukraine a year ago. Almost every daily news bite is about the Russians suffering yet another blow, but the Ukrainians have yet to regain their lost territories.
The attacks on China have also become ridiculous and to many Asians, especially those in the Chinese diaspora, it has degenerated into comedy, when it used to merely be annoying previously.
The Chinese have been accused of wanting to supply arms to Russia. That has somehow stopped now because even Ukraine has quashed that claim.
So we have countries which are sending or selling arms to Ukraine who are hypocritically warning China against doing the same. They have given up on Iran being the beneficiary now, of course.
But the icing on the cake must be the US Congress hearing, where TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, a Singaporean, was grilled by Republican and Democrat politicians.The lawmakers supposedly assumed bipartisan roles in this instance, meaning for once, they were on the same side, but they were clearly partisan.
The poor CEO had the unenviable task of fielding questions, interrogated by this bunch of rude and abusive people with accusations that they can’t substantiate.
They had already made up their minds even before listening to Chew, and they were given glowing reports by CNN until last week when it became obvious the world was making fun of these members of Congress.
To be more precise, they were even targeted in talk shows where they were mocked and ridiculed.
This was a classic case of a group of digitally illiterate political oldies sounding like leftovers from the McCarthy era of the 1960s which witch-hunted imagined communists. These fogies even believe TikTok users are being used to spy for the Chinese government and imagine the app is a national security risk.
The Americans, British, Russians, Israelis and many other countries have all been involved in spying activities since time immemorial, yet suddenly, they’re worried about TikTok being used to spy on Americans?
So these politicians have unwittingly exposed their ignorance of how modern technology works. The more they queried Chew, the more foolish they revealed themselves to be.
One Congressman asked, “if I have a TikTok app on my phone and my phone is on my phone’s Wi Fi network, does TikTok access that network?” What a stupid question.
To this Chew replied: “‘It will have access to the network to get a connection to the Internet, if that’s the question.”
It’s perplexing that a CEO of a tech company is asked about espionage and the plight of Uighurs in China, when Muslims in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, and Iraq have been bombed flat for decades.
And on the day CNN reported widely on the Congressional hearing, there wasn’t a peep about how Apple CEO Tim Cook was given a rousing welcome in China.
The treatment from the Chinese of Cook couldn’t have been more contrasting following the hours of Chew’s pummelling in the US.
Perhaps US politicians would want to haul Cook up to explain whether iPhones – of which 95% is made in China – could be used to spy on Americans.
These paranoid lawmakers should be worried about toting these Chinese-made US-owned mobiles.
But with more than 150 million TikTok users in the US, that translates into a massive number of votes. After all, the politicians can reach the voters more effectively via TikTok.
So why ban the app if it serves their selfish interests?