Advice to Mahathir to make sure that he is not fed with "false news" by Gerakan leaders about the Teluk Intan by-election campaign


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): In Ipoh yesterday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad expressed sadness that the DAP was still playing up racial issues in the Teluk Intan by-election although other countries regarded Malaysia as a model where the various races can live in harmony.

He even alleged: "In Malaysia everyone has a place but the DAP only wants one race more than the others".

I find it even sadder that the Prime Minister could be so misinformed as to make baseless allegations about the DAP by-election campaign in Teluk Intan and I would humbly advise Mahathir to make sure that he is not fed with "false news" by Gerakan leaders about the Teluk Intan by-election.

This is not the first time Gerakan leaders had misinformed Mahathir so that the Prime Minister could make a baseless allegation against the DAP to serve Gerakanís political objectives. The most glaring case was during the 1995 general elections when the Prime Minister was misled by Gerakan leaders to allege that I had publicly defied and challenged the police to arrest me - when there was no basis whatsoever in the allegation.

Recently, the Prime Minister also made an allegation which cannot withstand public scrutiny, and I would seriously urge him to double- check whatever is told to him before repeating them.

This happened in Gurun on Monday after the Prime Minister had opened Perwajaís beam and section mill, and he was asked by the press as to why other Barisan Nasional leaders had not voiced their stand on the issue of the conviction of DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng for offences under the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act.

Mahathir had replied: "They told me that they issued statements but the Press never published the statements. Thatís their complaint to me. They said unless the Prime Minister makes a statement the Press just ignores them."

I dare say that Barisan Nasional leaders who had told the Prime Minister that they had issued statements on Lim Guan Engís conviction but were "blacked out" by the press were not telling the truth.

Are Ministers included among these Barisan Nasional leader who had told Mahathir that their statements had been "blacked out" by the local press - and if so, there is even lesser credibility in such claims.

This is one example where the information given to the Prime Minister cannot stand up to any public scrutiny and where the Prime Minister had been embarrassed by "false news" fed to him because the press and the public know that what he said could not be true.

May be Barisan Nasional leaders who had fed the Prime Minister such "false news" should be referred to the Police so that the Attorney-General could consider whether they should be charged in court for the offence of "false news" under the Printing Presses and Publications Act.

As Mahathir and I can both qualify as political veterans, let me advise Mahathir that he is being misled by these Barisan Nasional leaders. He should cause an investigation to be made to determine why these Barisan Nasional leaders could mislead and expose him to public embarrassment, so that he will know who are the Ministers to drop in the next Cabinet reshuffle, if these Barisan Nasional leaders are also Cabinet Ministers.

The same applies to Mahathirís allegation yesterday that the DAP had played up racial issues in the Teluk Intan by-election, as it could not withstand any rigorous public scrutiny. Unfortunately, the Prime Ministerís baseless allegation was given extensive coverage in the printed and electronic media.

The guilty party in the Teluk Intan by-election in playing up racial issues is Gerakan which had been calling on Chinese voters in the Teluk Intan by-election to vote for a Chinese candidate, on the ground that "a Chinese must vote a Chinese" and to reject the DAP candidate because he is an Indian.

The Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon had also played the "Chinese education" card calling on the Chinese voters to reject the DAP candidate, M. Kulasegaran on the ground that an Indian cannot support Chinese education.

The issues the DAP raised in the Teluk Intan by-election were national issues which concern all Malaysians, regardless of race, like corruption, selective prosecution by the Attorney-General, need for a strong Opposition in Parliament, development as a fundamental right for all Malaysians, fair land distribution policy and IT For All.

DAP is prepared to submit to an investigation by an independent panel of Malaysians on which party had been playing on racial issues in the Teluk Intan by-election. Is the Prime Minister prepared to commission the establishment of such an independent panel before he flies off on Monday for a two-month leave overseas?

(16/5/97)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong