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Trial by media: Has the media been fair to Serba?

Letter to Editor

SERBA Dinamik Holdings Bhd has been getting bad press in the past one year. When I say bad press, it is really bad.

A simple Google check on the oil and gas (O&G) company will reveal how bad it is. Almost 80% of the stories on the company’s legal issues with the Securities Commission (SC) (now settled) give an impression that the company had committed something naughty.

One particular business daily has taken it upon itself to pretend to be the saviour of Malaysia’s corporate governance by going all out against Serba Dinamik.

And then there are the so-called expert columnists/analysts – some very old names – putting in their two sen worth about how Serba Dinamik is supposedly cheating the system, and then using the ‘poor naïve’ Attorney-General to get out of its legal hole.

All this has one clear effect – to damage and further erode the confidence in Serba Dinamik. And no wonder its share prices sunk so low!

The interesting question however is this – how come the media had not come to portray the “other side of the story”? How come the media, barring a very small number of articles here and there, were not keen to get Serba Dinamik to defend itself or to put the record straight?

Unabated bias

The problem could be due to Serba Dinamik’s reluctance to engage with the media.

In fact, its CEO and founder Datuk Dr Mohd Abdul Karim Abdullah mentioned in a recent interview (to The Malaysian Insight) that he could not reveal much although he was frustrated that reports were being published with inaccurate facts as the matter was still before the court then.

But he also revealed something else. He said he doubted “some publishers would have printed what I had to say accurately”.

Karim’s fear of media bias reveals the sad state of the media in Malaysia today. Instead of chasing a story, most were just keen to happily process statements issued by the SC on its cases against Serba Dinamik.

And they were also happy to process whatever statements Serba Dinamik had given to Bursa Malaysia arising from their troubles with the SC, and usually these statements never painted a rosy picture of the company.

As a result, readers only got the doom and gloom news, and nothing on what was really happening behind the scenes, especially on what Serba Dinamik was doing to clear its name, and how it had been played out by its auditors and others.

As mentioned earlier, one business daily kept digging and digging for all the negative spins it could find on Serba Dinamik. This daily managed to get its hatchet job done effectively so much so the SC seemed to have an open channel with them to damage Serba Dinamik.

Adding to that, this daily also forget the basic principles of balance reporting in its coverage, leaving Serba Dinamik looking like a guilty party from the word go.

Even with the cases with SC settled, articles continue to portray things negatively for Serba Dinamik.

So the question now is if the other media will give Serba Dinamik a fair space to tell its side of the story?

Will they be ready to knock on the doors, or make that call to Serba Dinamik or to Karim to ask what actually went wrong, who was at fault, and what are the plans to get back on track again?

I hope the media will wake up and smell the news that’s out there. And I also hope Serba Dinamik and Karim are ready with answers and solutions.