Posted in Putar-belit

PM’s Bernama raya photo, look again

Bernama today pooh-poohed the allegation raised by DAP Senator S. Ramakrishnan that a photograph of the PM’s Raya open house in Putrajaya was doctored.

Its editor-in-chief Datuk Yong Soo Heong said the suggestions are “utterly absurd”.

In his response today, Yong stated:

“Time is of the essence for a professional and responsible news organisation like Bernama and we do not have the time to indulge in irrational endeavours.”

If time is of such great essence, Bernama sure ain’t showing that the organization places any value on urgency. After all, Ramakrishnan raised the matter on Aug 27. Today is Sept 5. Does it take 10 days for Bernama to issue a simple outright denial?

See ‘Acara Najib gambar muka depan: The Star harus segera pinta maaf’

Nor does Bernama explain why the photo is captioned “Only for usage within domain” (Prime Minister’s Office) but inadvertently used on the front pages of the newspapers.

You can read the Bernama response in full at their website, here.

While I do not agree with the DAP Senator’s narrow interpretation that the festive scene should necessarily have depicted visitors who are “the young, old and the disabled in wheelchairs”, nonetheless, Yong’s statement – other than asserting Bernama’s professionalism – did not provide any technical explanation as to why some quarters view the said picture as Photoshopped.

See below: I’ve white-boxed three sections of the crowd that bears closer scrutiny. Please match and compare these segments against the main photo for context.

Box 1: Why do the people beside and immediately behind the child in orange – hoisted on (probably) his father’s shoulder – appear disproportionate (bigger than) the rest of the people around them?

Box 2: Why is the bespectacled young woman so much bigger than the Pak Haji wearing kopiah behind her?

Box 3: There is a man holding up his camera phone and beside him on his left three women in tudung also holding up cameras. They are half a body length taller than the people behind and in front of them.

Their posture does not indicate that they’re balancing themselves on a raised platform. Plus it’s out of character for middle-aged Malay ladies in baju kurung to be standing on chairs in such a packed crowd.

Bernama’s defence merely rests on the claim that they are a responsible outfit and would not “indulge in irrational endeavours”. To me, the excuse is not persuasive enough.

Firstly, it can hardly be said to be “irrational” to pad up a crowd size if it serves a purpose. Unethical yes but irrational no.

Secondly, The Star (which published the Bernama photo on its front page) has just been caught out for plagiarism. A black mark against their self-professed professional standards.

Read ‘Plagiarism query on Star column’ and ‘Suspicious deep insights by beauty in Star column‘ in the uppercaise media monitor today.



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38 thoughts on “PM’s Bernama raya photo, look again

  1. Why does the Jalur Gemilang have more stripes than a Malayan Tiger? Why not have just two stripes? Isnt that more efficient? Why does that palm on the lower right corner have only five fingers? Why is it bigger than the man’s face? Why does that woman in the black tudung have a gap between her front teeth? Why does that fellow smell of sweat? I can smell him even through your Blog and my lap top.

    1. “Why does the Jalur Gemilang have more stripes than a Malayan Tiger? Why not have just two stripes?”

      Indeed, why not just have two broad bands.

  2. Haiyah, if you into photography you will know what Fisheye lenses, wide angle lense and the effect it will have on the pictures. It’s not doctorated but yes photoshop or other graphic was use to correct the picture.And why it took 10 days for BERNAMA to deny it?. If you ask photographer, the accusation that made were totally stupid coming from someone who don’t know a thing about photography. So, Syed Akbar Ali go grab yourself a wide lense or fisheye lense, a Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop and then make your analysis.Conclusion, the DAP’s Senator is totally stupid for making an accusation before referring to someone expert in photography.

    1. The point is Bernama did not provide any explanation, even anything remotely like your suggestion that it was Photoshopped but not doctored.

      Bernama said, the pixman “had used his creativity to depict the large crowd of well-wishers”.

      Anyway, below are samples of the wide angle and fish eye effects. They do NOT distort the size of people in perspective, i.e. people in the back appearing bigger than people in front.

      Views from photography professionals are welcome. I don’t claim to be an expert :)




      1. Those 3 are using fisheye lenses, wide angle are use for landscape with smallest aperture possible so there is enough light going into the sensor.Let say you try to flat those 3 pictures, what will you get?. That’s why you get distortion in those picture.You’ll stretch out those pixel to become flat to make it looks normal as what human eyes would see.Come on Helen, as 3rd grade can easy photoshop those picture, as if BERNAMA photographer been so sloppy to make sure no imperfection on those pictures. And these have been discussed before during the Anwar’s China Doll action about the wide lenses. BERNAMA do not need to do any explanation as there are many proof in videos and pictures provided.

        1. The first two sample pix are fish lens, the third is wide angle.

          Let’s say the Bernama guy flattened it out (as you claim) but look at the ‘troublespots’ where I’ve marked the red arrows. And for close-up, look again at the posting proper top of page.

          The sides of the photo, where the curve is supposedly stretched out, look fine.

          The erratic sizing occurs somewhere in the 1/5th uppermost stratum of the photo (see below — double click to view).

          Pardon me but for the sake of the PM’s reputation, I think Bernama should provide a more convincing explanation.

          It’s not that doctoring by newspapers has not happened before. Remember the previous incident during Bersih 2.0 when Berita Minggu splashed a doctored photograph showing a masked youth brandishing “a knife” when in reality what he had was a Malaysian flag in his hand — see

          and many other news reports on that Photoshop episode.

          And on the heels of this Bernama pix is the phantom tweets on #Merdeka55 which was exposed by an outside organization PoliTweet, and not by Pakatan.

          Given all this erosion in credibility, Bernama should indeed make a greater effort to clear the air than just mumbling that they’re a respectable news outfit.

      2. The knife indeed using the photoshop techniques that involve “masking”. You just erase the flag and replaced it with the “masked” knife. Very kacang indeed. The distortion is due to the lenses effect itself and the picture need to be adjust the exposure to lighten up the faces as you are taking picture where the light coming direct to your lenses. Not all lenses will give the same effect as they do have the imperfection, and that’s why some people spend RM15K RM50K just for a lenses.BERNAMA do not need to do any explanation as any professional photographers can explain it straight away.

        1. The masking may have been easy-peasy to do but that the newspaper actually did it was criminal!

          I mean the young man was waving our national flag but instead a knife is Photoshopped into his hand? He should have sued the paper.

          And I don’t think that Bernama can be absolved from giving a proper explanation. The photo was seen by hundreds of thousands (considering Star circulation alone, and since it was front page, people have have even just glanced at it without needing to buy the paper).

          How many of the readers are professional photographers who do not need an explanation?

          Better yet, since Senator Ramakrishnan was the first to politicize the issue, he should trot out a pro pixman to back up his accusation.

      3. What the senator do not know about there are many explanation that can be obtain from the web.
        Let’s try first with this first
        Then start Google around with the key words lenses distortion. Like I said before there are too many technical terms involved to explain to those who only using their camera just point and shoot.

      4. Hannah Yeoh is too partisan and closed minded (Jumud). People continue to read your blogs not because you are BN or Pakatan, but because of the facts and I’ll bet that there are many readers appreciate of what you are doing now.

    2. ARe you sure the senator is stupid? Or you are the one who is very ‘ smart ‘ but living in denial? Was a lousy PhotoShop job. Shame on the bernama chap.

      1. Living in denial? What’s that got to do with Wide, telephoto, fast lenses, aperture, bokeh, ISO, shutter speed, focal length and etc etc?. A living proof already provided like DSAI in his China Doll movie. Why his “perut” looks buncit? Photoshop eh?

        1. Then Bernama in their statement today – after a lapse of 10 days to get their act together – should have provided slides to demonstrate how any supposed distortion occurred.

          Or you can do it (demo) in this blog.

          I’m not disputing the good turnout at the open house, and as the track record of my blog shows, I don’t simply cast aspersions at Najib. Nor am I raising this to setback the BN.

          The photo looks odd to me, that all, and a professional and technical explanation by Bernama would have been appreciated rather than the statement they put out today saying that the guy has taken pictures of Ban Ki-Moon, David Cameron and Hilary Clinton before (so what if he did?!)

      2. No worries Helen. I’m not a partisan in this blog but it is an insults to photographers accusing using something to doctored that what it’s not to be from someone who did not do his homework first. It will become too technical to explain for those who don’t have the ground of basic photography.

        Okay. I can accept what you say regarding caution. I feel it is an insult to me too when my labour of love on this blog is so lightly accused of being mercenary work on behalf of the “devil’s coalition” (a Hannah Yeoh phrase). Really, really insulting. Supreme insult. — Helen

    1. I shall confess that I like your practicality and solution-mindedness (like when you proposed the mopping robot, haha).

      You do lah the photo forensics, or whatever CSI you can.

  3. Looking at the picture, it seems the photographer was using fisheye lense and its nothing wrong to use such lenses instead of wide angle lense since I believe the coverage of fisheye lenses are wider.

    but, even with a very wide angle lense you will get about the same characteristics.

    1. Correct me if I’m wrong but my impression is that fish eye lens makes things look curved at the edges.

      The problematic areas are the several segments where people standing side by side, or front/back look one much bigger than the other.

      The photo samples on this page for both fish eye and wide angle do not distort object size that are next to each other.

      Even if a curve is flattened out (to print/publish the pix), would it affect those particular spots or just the edges?

  4. Good idea to use the fotoforensics. Just use the BERNAMA’s picture and you’ll be surprised what is the answer are.

      1. Yep, you saved and I saved, the BERNAMA saved and when upload to fotoforensic they do saved the picture. The doctored will appear light against the black means new modification being done to the picture.

        1. I’ve resubmitted to FotoForensics using the PMO url which cuts out your saving and my saving.

          Have put up the results in next posting. G’nite.

  5. to a layman like me, who know nuts about photography, I am concluding that the pix was not doctored however it was cleaned up. Now, the question is what’s next? Are we seeking apology from the accuser for making false allegations? Your answer is as good as mine; a big NO! That’s why in my previous comment I said how silly it is for Rama to take up petty issue such as this and the best part is asking for proof that the pix was not doctored in any way. All these while, I thought the burden of proof lies in the accuser and not the accussed! That’s why BERNAMA took days to answer the allegations. From BERNAMa pov ‘Come on la .. You accused me of doctoring the pix, show la where,,but ramble on & on with no valid point except claims & allegations.’ .. And here we all discussing but fail to realise, we’ve been had by opposition yet again. Confusing & creating doubts has always been their traits.

    1. Okay, point taken.

      The burden of proof lies on the accuser. I agree with you on that.

      However since Senator Rama had set out his blog

      his points on why he thinks the photo is suspicious, then Bernama should address the seeming anomalies that he raised.

      There might be perfectly reasonable technical explanations and I doubt that anyone (of us non-politicians) has any grudges against the Bernama pixman whom we’re unacquainted with, and are open to be explained to.

      Bernama should just clear the air.

  6. I was there. doctored, fisheyed, photoshoped or not, I saw and i know the crowd was big on that day…. ask anyone who was there. It was like at a football final at the stadium. period.

    1. That’s fine and thanks for sharing the info. I am [correction] not disputing the event managed a good turnout or that Najib is popular.

      However, the people in the crowd whose odd sizes are not according to normal scale have been discussed in many pro-oppositionist news portals and blogs.

      The disproportion casts some doubt on the authenticity of the pix plus its apparent multiple saves as revealed by FotoForensics.

      And like the #Merdeka55 cloned tweets, any attempt at allegedly padding the numbers will only backfire on BN b’cos suspicion adds to the existing distrust by the general (Pakatan) public and may influence fence sitters.

  7. Ada banyak gergasi….

    boleh jmpa Najib di mana2.. so tak perlu la ‘naik atas kerusi’ semata2 nak ambil gambar…

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