Bernama’s moment of truth.

Assuming that news of the death of BernamTV cameraman Noramfaizul Mohd Nor in Somalia is true – a massive assumption indeed given Bernama’s disgracefully dubious reporting record – this is sad tidings indeed for the man and his family and friends.

But even if this is a rare moment of truth, it is also a salutary reality check for any Malaysian still innocent or ignorant enough to believe the load of lies and disinformation routinely disseminated by the Umno/BN publicity machine.

Any shred of truth about Faizul’s alleged death was immediately shot to pieces by a barrage of the kind of rubbish for which Bernama is notorious in its role of good-news agency for the Umno/BN regime.

Faizul’s corpse was hardly cold before his erstwhile employers were quoting Prime Minister Najib Razak’s typically false and self-serving statement from Perth, Australia that the cameraman was “a true Malaysian hero who embodies our role to help wherever help is needed.”

In fact, as courageous a man as he may well have been, Faizul was not a Malaysian hero, but a 1Malaysia hero; one of the “broken bodies and lost lives” with which Najib not long ago notoriously declared that Umno/BN must “defend Putrajaya.”

And this was clearly not a genuine Malaysian aid mission to assist the stricken people of Somalia, but a “Kelab Putera 1Malaysia” publicity-stunt designed to help invest the callous and uncaring Umno/BN regime with a spurious humanitarian image.

In fact the Kelab Puteri 1Malaysia tour of Mogadishu was every bit as fraudulent as the “knee physiotherapy” alibi on which Najib absented himself from home on Merdeka Day to go tripping off on holiday to Perth.

There’s no denying that he did cut this mystery trip short, however, to be on hand to assist Bernama in its efforts at damage-control on the arrival of its dead cameraman’s body back in Malaysia.

“Let us not play the blame game now, I think that is a very callous thing to do,” he said, before firing-off a fusillade of remarks intended to relieve his regime of any shred of responsibility for Faizul’s fatal shooting.

Attempting to excuse the failure to adequately protect the victim and the convoy in which he was travelling with comments like “the security arrangements provided were sufficient,” and “even if you wear a bullet-proof vest, there is no guarantee,” and “when many weapons are in the hands of unprofessional men, there is danger.”

Najib shot himself in the foot with the last of these remarks, which only served to remind many of us of the danger that Malaysians so evidently face as a result of many weapons being in the hands of Umno/BN’s criminally unprofessional police force.

And his allusion to the question of bullet-proof vests set a lot of people wondering how many of them could have been purchased for the price of just one of his wife’s collection of heavy-duty Hermès Birkin bags.

But the line that gave the ultimate lie to Najib’s caring call to avoid the blame game and not to be callous in the face of Noramfaizul Mohd Nor’s unfortunate demise was what Bernama described as his “quip” that “even international journalists get killed. If you don’t want to be a journalist, stay at home.”

The sheer tastelessness of this comment, and the fact that Bernama saw the need to slavishly quote it, to me speaks volumes about the arrogant master-stupid slave relationship that prevails between the Putras and the Umno/BN mainstream media, and their combined contempt for the Malaysian people.

There was also a clear lack of coherence in Bernama reports on the shooting itself, as the ‘news’ agency quoted Najib as claiming that “they were hit by stray shots that were not aimed at our convoy,” but also citing an alleged eye-witness identified only as “Halima” as telling the New York Times that “an African Union truck came after the car and started firing.”

Bernama also tells us that, despite his “stray shots” story, Najib maintains that Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad has promised to investigate the incident and provide him with a full report.

Let’s hope that the outcome of Sheikh Ahmad’s investigations turns out to be more credible than the customary “sudden death” or “neither homicide nor suicide” verdicts on the cause of deaths of victims of the Umno/BN regime’s murderous ‘law-enforcement’ agencies.

Meanwhile, though, Bernama is working overtime to exonerate its Umno/BN masters of any possible blame, quoting the head of the Somali mission, Dr Alwi Abdul Rahman, as denying that a bullet-proof vest would have saved the life of Noramfaizal Mohd Nor, “as the bullet fired was of very high calibre.”

Call me overly cynical, but this sounds far too much like typical Bernama-style Umno/BN apologetics to be true. As does another report in which Foreign Minister Anifah Aman is quoted as claiming that the Malaysian Ambassador to Libya, Zulkifli Yaacob, had travelled to Somalia to make security arrangements in advance of the Kelab Putera 1Malaysia group’s visit.

And lest you imagine that I’m out of order in claiming that Bernama is capable of making up the news as it goes along, take a look at the complaint by a student that he and colleagues were misquoted in a recent feel-good fantasy entitled “Najib speech inspirational, say students in Perth.”

The student, who requested anonymity because he is a government scholar, told Malaysiakini that Bernama “totally changed and added stuff that we never said. And the whole thing was done before the speech and not after.”

In short, as I’ve been saying for years, if you believe Bernama you’ll believe anything. And even when this contemptible apology for a news agency experiences a rare moment of truth, as in the death of Noramfaizul Mohd Nor, it continues to devote itself to the systematic, cold-blooded killing of the life and soul of journalism, the truth.

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