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You criticise me? I take you off air - malaysiakini

Malaysiakini's report:

Information Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek said that the axing of the Mandarin-language talk-show 'What Say You' on the state-run TV2 station is part of a restructuring exercise.

ahmad shabery cheek  041108 02Winding up on points related to his ministry in the debate on the 2009 Supply Bill in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, he said the programme, aired on Sundays at 7pm, has also suffered from a low rating.

“If we look at the ratings for free-to-air programmes in this country, it had a very poor rating, with only 180,000-190,000 viewers. So we felt it was a waste of money when it was in a prime-time slot,” Bernama quoted him as saying.

Ahmad Shabery was responding to questions by Teresa Kok (DAP-Seputeh) and Liew Chin Tong (DAP-Bukit Bendera) on the ministry’s decision to pull out the programme with effect from yesterday.

He said this is a temprary decision that also affects two other programmes - Bersemuka Dengan Media (Face-to-face with the Media) and Bersama Ketua Setiausaha (With the chief secretary to the government).

What Say You has been on air for two years and has focused on discussion of current affairs including issues deemed controversial by the government, such as the New Economic Policy and detentions under the Internal Security Act.

Panelists invited often include harsh critics of the government, such as members of opposition parties and NGOs.

teresa kokThe last opposition figure to appear was Kok, who spoke on a host of issues including corruption, judicial and police reforms in the programme aired on Oct 26.

It also featured a ‘live’ call-in session, which viewers often used as a platform to lambast government policies and decisions.

‘Debat Perdana’ may be revived

On a question by Loke Siew Fook (DAP-Rasah) on why the Debat Perdana programme had been ended after the March general election, Ahmad Shabery said that he would have “no problems” putting it back on air.

The hour-long show, which was broadcast on RTM1 every Sunday, has pitted an opposition figure against a government representative and a ‘neutral’ commentator from an NGO or academia, before a ‘live’ audience -