Thursday, February 08, 2018

Will Dato’ Seri Azalina Othman take action against Berita Harian for publishing fake news on falling car prices?

This Sunday’s cover story in UMNO-owned newspaper Berita Harian (BH) proudly declared, “harga kereta turun” (car prices decrease), reporting that car prices had dropped 13.1% as a result of the government’s automotive policies as well as the strengthening ringgit.

To further drive home the point, the accompanying full-page reports in the paper carried the headline “Menepati Janji Manifesto BN” (fulfilling the promises of the BN Manifesto. It was accompanied by an infographic comparing prices between 2013 and 2018 for different models of cars owned by Malaysians. The graphic suggested that prices for the various local, Japanese and European cars had decreased significantly between 2.25% and 20.77% since 2013.

However, a lengthy report on specialist automotive blog showed just how misleading the report by Berita Harian was. They noted that the comparisons made by Berita Harian compared different variants for the same model and used inaccurate pricing information.

For example, the BH article had compared the 2013 Perodua Alza’s 1.6 SE Manual model with the 2018 Standard model to show a 14.18% reduction in price.

For the Proton Exora, the newspaper had even used an inflated price for its 2013 comparison to further exaggerate the decrease. Instead of using the original price at 2013, it used the 2016 price, which came after price increase across the range. Worse, the report even included insurance for its ‘2013’ price whereas the current price stated does not include insurance.

The comparisons provided were at best between apples and oranges, and at worst, comparing fake apples with real oranges.

In the last elections, one of Barisan Nasional’s key manifesto points was that car prices would decrease 20-30%. The Berita Harian report was unabashly singing praises of the BN Government’s purportedly successful delivery of this promise.

However, the findings by proved the complete opposite.

Here’s a simple question for the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman who has been given the responsibility to table an anti-fake news bill in the next parliamentary sitting – will she instruct MCMC or even the Home Ministry to take action against BH for publishing the outrageous fake news?  If she doesn’t, then it is clear that she is not sincere in ensuring an anti-fake news bill which is fair, and which will not be abused by the BN government to punish opposition critics and whistleblowers.

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