Is what you see really what you get?

  • One Man's Meat
  • Saturday, 12 Mar 2016

Think a recent video and photograph are proof of a cooling relationship? Think again.

THE opening scene of the video clip that has gone maliciously viral is dramatic.

You see half a dozen police outriders in front of a metallic green Range Rover. Behind the moving luxury SUV (sports utility vehicle) are two escort vehicles with the doors open as bodyguards are ready to pounce if there is any sign of danger.

Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskan­dar is seen coming out of the Range Rover. The Sultan of Johor shakes hands with those waiting for his arrival. He then looks at Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and walks to a multipurpose hall.

That video clip was shared on my Facebook and WhatsApp timeline.On Facebook, the video is captioned, “Sultan Johor langsung tak salam Najib semasa ketibaan Tuanku ke upacara Majlis Perasmian Forest City 2016... kenapa?? (Sultan of Johor refuses to shake hands with Najib when Tuanku arrives at the Forest City 2016 launching ceremony... why??).”

On WhatsApp, the video was shared with the message, “Take note Johor Sultan did not shake Najib’s hand at the launching of Forest City on Sunday ....”

Also shared with the video was a photograph of the Sultan and Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin talking to each other at the main stage of the multi-billion ringgit mixed development project launch. On their right was Najib, who looked as if he was ignored by the Sultan and Mentri Besar (pic).

I didn’t respond to the video and photograph, which kept popping up on my WhatsApp groups. Logic would tell you that what you see is not what you get.

But sometimes it is tiring to argue with people who only want to see what they believe.

On Tuesday, I received the video clip and photograph from a Twitter

friend via WhatsApp.

“The Johor Sultan didn’t shake hands with Najib. And the following picture shows the relationship between them is cold,” he said.

“Perhaps that’s the perception given by the video and pix. In actual fact, they are close,” I said.

“Maybe, but I think the video and photograph show that their relationship is not good. That is what the public think,” he said.

“It all depends on whether the public want to fool themselves. I bet there are pix that will show a different impression,” I said.

His message made me determined to find out what actually happened between the Prime Minister and the Sultan during the launch. I sent the video clip and photograph via WhatsApp to my contact who is close to the Prime Minister’s Office. “Can find out why the Sultan didn’t shake hands with Najib?” I asked.

“Ok. But I understand that the Sultan personally drove Najib around to visit certain places then. Will find out more,” he said.

Twenty minutes later, he replied, with a message, “This is from PMO guy who followed Najib that day.

“PM went to the Istana Bukit Serene straight from the airport, had an audience with the Sultan. Then both proceeded to Forest City together,” he wrote.

“Of course, they didn’t shake hands because they already met at the Istana. Sultan was driving and he invited PM to go in the car with him.

“PM wasn’t waiting for Sultan at Forest City. PM got out of the car and then both walked in together into the event. It would be strange for both of them to salam (greet) again upon arrival when both got out of the Range Rover!”

Later that night, my contact sent me a testimony from a PMO staffer written in Malay.

The testimony starts with: “Pertamanya marilah kita semua memohon kepada ALLAH SWT agar diampunkan orang yang memanipulasi Video ini untuk memfitnah DYMM Sultan Johor walaupun tujuan asalnya semata-mata untuk memomok-momokan PM.

(Firstly, let’s ask Allah SWT to forgive the person who manipulated the video just to slander the Sultan of Johor, even though the original intention was to mock Najib.)

The staffer continued, “I am a witness to what happened. I am a son of Johor who doesn’t want the Sultan of Johor dragged down by certain quarters with political intention using technological manipulation and new media. It is very saddening. With a bit of payment, someone will do anything even to slander someone.)

The “anak Johor” also explained in his WhatsApp testimony the chronology of events.

I called my colleague Nelson Benjamin, The Star’s Johor bureau chief, to get an insight into the launch that he covered. He confirmed what the PMO staffer had said.

My contact who is close to the PMO also shared a meme via WhatsApp that showed “gambar sebenar” (the original photograph) and “gambar edit” (edited photo). It is not clear who created the meme and whether the “edited” photo was really edited or whether it was taken at a different time. The “edited” photo is the one where Najib looked as if he was ignored. And the “original” photograph showed the Sultan talking to the Prime Minister.

Nelson is not sure whether the edited photograph was edited. But he’s sure that the original photograph is real as he saw the Sultan talking to the Prime Minister.

Don’t take what you see on messaging apps or social media at face value. Check, check and check. This goes for photographs or videos involving any individuals, whether in government or opposition.

There will also be those who will think that this article is a lie. And they will call me nasty names.

With these diehard supporters, I’ve learnt that I can’t defend myself as they want to believe what they want to believe.

Don’t allow your political belief to fool you.

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Opinion , Philip Golingai , columnist


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