[UPDATE: 22/07/2020] We’re updating this article to include Dustin’s response to us. Updates can be found within the article in blue.
Unless you’re on a social media detox challenge, chances are you’re aware of the recent controversy involving a well-known news site, AlJazeera. If you don’t know what happened, here’s a quick rundown.
Earlier this month, Al Jazeera 101 East broadcast a video called ‘Locked up in Malaysia’s Lockdown’, which you can find on YouTube (or by clicking here). The 25-minute documentary talks about the condition of illegal immigrants in Malaysia during the movement control order.
The video received a lot of backlash from Malaysians and the journalists involved were called in by the Malaysian authorities over false reporting.
See, among the responses the documentary got was a response video from an angmoh named Dustin Pfundheller. He published the response video entitled ‘Top 15 Mistakes in Locked up in Malaysia’s Lockdown’ on his YouTube channel and Facebook page called Other Side of the Truth. In his 12-minute video, he pointed out 15 mistakes made by Al Jazeera journalists in the documentary.
What’s surprising tho was how the national news agency, BERNAMA, posted Dustin’s video on its Twitter page!
Top 15 Mistakes in Locked up in Malaysia’s Lockdown video by Al Jazeera
Video: Dr Dustin Pfundhelle “Other Side Of The Truth”
— BERNAMA TV 🇲🇾 (@BernamaTV) July 15, 2020
We contacted BERNAMA to find out why it chose to feature Dustin’s video on its Twitter page but we’ve yet to receive a response from their end. :/
Anyways, because we’re such kepoh people at CILISOS, we decided to watch Dustin’s video and… uh…
pull a reverse card on him look into the points he made in that video.
Note: This is NOT a response article to Dustin’s response video. And don’t worry, we’re definitely not gonna talk about ALL his 15 points.
And we found several inaccuracies such as when he said…
1. “You really can’t be taking videos and footages of police and military.”
So, Dustin started his video with point number 15, which is taking video of security areas. He explained that the act of filming police and military like what the Al Jazeera journalists did was wrong in many countries like the United States.
However, he didn’t point out how such a law isn’t really the same in Malaysia.
As it turns out, there is NO law in Malaysia that prevents you from recording anyone, including abang polis, in the public. As long as you’re courteous about it (ask permission before recording) and you don’t use it to defame the authority, then it should be okay.
Our sister site, AskLegal, covered this issue before and you can read more about it here.
2. “…lots of times they weren’t wearing a mask.”
In his 14th point, Dustin pointed out how the journalists complained that they weren’t allowed into a high risk area. While the points made by Dustin may be true to a certain extent, because nobody was allowed to enter or leave any high risk areas that are under the enhanced movement order like the one featured in the documentary, we can’t help but to look at Dustin’s other point.
Dustin mentioned that a lot of times, the Al Jazeera journalist, who hosted the documentary, wasn’t wearing a mask. Call us petty but we actually watched the documentary for this specific purpose.
And out of a total of eight appearances the journalist made throughout the documentary, he appeared…
- Twice without a mask…
- Five times with a mask on…
- …and once with a mask AND PPE on(!)
3. “…regardless, if children are handcuffed, I mean it’s not the end of the day.”
Dustin mentioned that he doesn’t believe that children were actually handcuffed as there was no evidence in the documentary. This may be true considering how we also weren’t able to find any footage of children being handcuffed in the documentary.
What we found was how there were women and children, among other illegal immigrants, who were reportedly detained by the Immigration Department in the raid conducted at the Selayang wet market.
Despite that, what caught our attention was what he said next.
“And regardless, if children are handcuffed, I mean, it’s not the end of the day. It doesn’t hurt them. Oh big deal.” – Dustin in his video.
See, it’s a pretty big deal because you can’t just simply handcuff a child in Malaysia. Under the Child Act 2001, a child CANNOT be handcuffed although he or she is arrested by the authorities. Well, that is unless they committed a grave crime such as murder or they try to escape from the authorities while getting arrested.
There has been a case where a photo was widely circulated online of a Pelahu child, who was handcuffed while holding a toy gun. That incident pretty much sparked rage among experts, including the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Aziz Jamman, who condemned the act of photographing the child in that way.
4. “Saying Malaysians don’t want migrant jobs.”
Besides that, Dustin also pointed out how the Al Jazeera documentary mentioned that Malaysians don’t want migrant workers’ jobs. He acknowledged that this statement may be true and, after watching the documentary, we found out that Al Jazeera did mention how Malaysia’s economy depends on foreign workers.
“Malaysia’s economy depends on 2.2 million migrant workers but it’s estimated that another 4 million are here illegally – taking dirty, dangerous jobs few locals want.” – Roughly quoted from Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown.
And while the wet market scene didn’t actually appear right after that statement, Al Jazeera did state that there have been 500 local applicants for 60 positions at the wet market after a new policy to hire locals at the wet market was introduced. Dustin mentioned this in his video, which also led him to say that migrant workers have been taking locals job opportunities.
Well, what Dustin didn’t mention in his video was how stallholders were also complaining about these new employees who can’t handle the long hours of work and the workload involved. In fact, Malay Hawkers and Petty Traders Association chairman Mohamad Pandu Insan Yahya mentioned that not everyone can tahan with jobs like this.
“I can’t deny that not everyone can last in a labour-intensive sector like this but I believe that there’s only a small number who can’t take it.” – Mohammad Pandu, as quoted by Al Jazeera.
But Al Jazeera isn’t the only one to say such a thing. There have been several reports by local and international news sites stating the same. Ms Lau, a trader at the Pudu wet market, claimed that most locals won’t even last more than a week and would even be reluctant to do heavy-lifting jobs. Another trader tho claimed that locals may not be attracted to the job because it doesn’t come with benefits like SOCSO or EPF.
Despite that, it was reported that a LOT of locals applied to work at wet markets. At the time of writing, 1,200 locals have applied to work at the Selayang wet market.
5. “Never saying the good things about Malaysia”
If you’ve watched Dustin’s video til the end, this is actually his last point. He made that point and proceeded to recommend audiences to watch two videos about how the Malaysian govt handles Covid-19. And guess who made those videos? (Hint: the guy is in the picture below)
Well, while this point may seem like a nice segue to attract audiences to watch his other videos, we can’t help but to point out how the documentary did laud the efforts of Migrant Care Malaysia, an NGO aimed at safeguarding the welfare of migrant workers in Malaysia.
And Al Jazeera followed Migrant Care’s coordinator, Alex Ong, who helped supply food to jobless migrant workers.
Ok la, to be fair, the documentary did NOT specifically highlight some govt efforts like building a quarantine centre for illegal migrant workers if they tested positive for Covid-19.
Dustin is just an American dentist who wanted to be the youngest person to travel every country
While researching this story, we came across a Twitter thread by @jiavernn, who made quite a discovery about Dustin himself.
Since Mr. Pfundheller seems to love doing “extensive research” on Malaysia (albeit getting our laws wrong) I thought I’ll spend my leave days returning the favor <3
Dr. Dustin Pfundheller, better known as Dusty back home, is a 34yo who holds 2 degrees (Maths + Dentistry) https://t.co/BkqqOdDzcS
— jvee (@jiavernn) July 15, 2020
As it turns out, Dustin, who graduated from University of Florida in dentistry, flew all the way to Singapore to work as a dentist. In his free time, he would travel around the world. He would save up to travel by staying over at other people’s house and eating at local shops.
But this is no casual traveling la ok because he aspired to be the youngest person to ever travel every country in the world while having a full time job. Oddly enough, he’d normally meet people in countries he traveled – fellow dentists and even people he matched on… Tinder(?). #weirdflexbutok
Anyways, he managed to do that at the age of 31 when he visited Israel (his final stop) in 2017. And we say managed because he initially got deported from Israel for having acquaintances from Lebanon and Iran, whom he met on Tinder. Despite that, he tried to enter Israel countless of times and even went to the extend of going to the High Court. And it kinda worked la considering how he was eventually allowed in Israel.
Upon completing his travel, he submitted an application to the Guinness World Records to be recognised for eight travel-related world records (you can pretty much check the list of these supposed records here) but we weren’t able to find anymore news about this.
We contacted Dustin to find more info on this but he has yet to respond.
We tried searching for the youngest person to visit every country and there are plenty of people who claimed to have done so. The latest one is Lexie Alford, who’s only 21 years old! See, she and the rest of the aforementioned people we found while researching for this story, are all younger than Dustin.
So, as it turns out, we weren’t able to find news about Dustin’s Guinness World Records because he removed his application with them as Dustin believes there are many loopholes in the criteria to get Guinness World Records.
“Guinness records should get out of doing travel. They have no idea what they are doing. For example, they allow you to visit Israel and count it as visiting Syria and you can also visit South Korea and count it as visiting North Korea.” – Dustin to CILISOS.
See, Dustin, who used to live and traveled around Malaysia by bike, made the ‘Top 15 Mistakes in Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown’ video because he felt that there were many inaccuracies in that documentary.
“I was disappointed in the many inaccuracies and how biased the video was. I thought it was important to show the other side.” – Dustin.
Dustin also told us that he was unaware that BERNAMA shared his video on Twitter but didn’t mind that the national news agency did that. He also said he wasn’t aware about the Twitter thread made by @jiavernn and told us that the information posted in the Twitter thread by @jiavernn is untrue.
[END OF UPDATE]
But besides the world record, Dustin would also post videos of the countries he visited on his YouTube channel. As of now, he has made three videos about Malaysia, including the one featured on BERNAMA’s Twitter page. One of his video entitled ‘How Malaysia did the Impossible – Covid-19‘ gained a lot of attention because it was banned from Facebook for promoting false, misleading and deceptive claims.
However, this may not come as a surprise considering how his previous video gained backlash by our kiasu neighbours.
Back in December 2019, Dustin posted a video commenting how Singapore’s Changi Airport is overrated. Apparently, he made several false claims about the airport such as how there are no seats at the gates and even accused Changi Airport system of racism because tourists apparently had to pay more for taxis.
Despite all these, at the end of the day…
Dustin’s videos may only reflect his personal views but…
Just like other YouTubers or vloggers, it may be worthy to note how Dustin’s videos may only reflect his personal views. This is despite him claiming that he uses accurate facts and sources.
“Not only did I use accurate facts and source many of the areas where I got the information, I also had 30 YouTubers do fact checks on it and review the video – and the only thing I found out from their reviews was that there were (more) things I should have included that Malaysia had done – like giving free Internet.” – Dustin, quoted by The Star.
But from the time we spent watching some of his videos (yes, we ended up watching more than one of his videos… for article purposes), we had a hard time tracing which sources he was talking about. And that’s because he didn’t quite attribute his sources properly in his videos, except for that one video where he kinda listed down several ‘sources’.
This may be why it was pretty surprising for some people to find out that BERNAMA shared Dustin’s video on its platform.
Well, that’s because the general perception towards the govt is vital, especially in trying times like this. And it is believed that the media plays a role in shaping these perceptions. Because as Winston Churchill would say…
“There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion.”