Is Nanyang Siang Pau editorial today its  official stand to declare war against DAP and  to try to destroy the DAP?


Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday):  On Saturday I said in Penang about the DAP's proposal to commission  an independent study on the unfair coverage of the current DAP crisis by certain mass media which appear to have certain agendas, as perpetuating the impression:

I said such a study should also  find out what is the "agenda" of certain mass media who devote daily extensive coverage to the DAPís internal problems, often times putting the DAP on the front page,  when previously they would black out all news about the DAP to the extent that the name 'Lim Kit Siang' is banned in reporting of parliamentary debates?

I also said: "Furthermore, such extensive news coverage for the DAP is not on what the DAP leaders are advocating for Malaysia in the national movement for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance, but on the attacks, abuses and insinuations hurled at the DAP leadership by certain DAP malcontents.

"In other words, press freedom for certain mass media has degenerated to a stage where  what the Parliamentary Opposition Leader has to say, whether inside or outside Parliament, for the betterment of the Malaysian society or on behalf of the Malaysian people is never news enough to be reported, but any criticism or attack by any DAP malcontent, whether significant or otherwise, is instantly regarded as 'newsworthy' even fit for the  front-page!

"For the sake of developing a honest, fair and responsible press in Malaysia, it is important that such abuses of press freedom should be brought to public light and knowledge.

"It is also very unfortunate that columnists who write comment pieces in certain mass media do not seem to understand that the most fundamental tenet they must observe is 'Comments are free, but facts are sacred'."

I added: "It would be very useful for the development of a healthy, responsible and vibrant journalism in Malaysia if the unfair mass media coverage of the DAP crisis, involving both news, comments and even editorials, could be made into a case study, which would be a public document, giving the newspapers and journalists concerned an opportunity to justify their unfairness and  bias."

Anyone who had been following closely the mass media scene would know that I was referring to certain English and Bahasa Malaysia newspapers and not to any Chinese newspaper, and I am most shocked  that Nanyang Siang Pao had reacted very vehemently to the proposal for an independent study on the unfair coverage of the current DAP crisis that in an editorial today as good as declared open war on the DAP and the DAP leadership, not only championing the cases of Wee Choo Keong, Liew Ah Kim and Fung Ket Wing, but also a most ferocious attack on DAP leadership calculated to destroy the DAP under An editorial entitled: "DAP's self-created crisis".

One of these English national daily today, for instance, carried reports with headlines like "DAP trio: Drastic action was to kill us politically" and "Members show support for Wee" without any report of the statements eitther by Ahmad Nor, Chairman of the DAP Disciplinary Committee or Tan Kok Wai, DAP National Organising Secretary.

The NYSP editorial said:

"Lim Kit Siang and company not only want to monopolise the internal party line, but also seek to monopolise the definition of press freedom and its practice. What is more outrageous is that he even wants to monopolise the prerogative of being the champion of press freedom.  He criticised the press for giving prominent coverage to the DAP internal crisis, that the press create the false impression that there is no 'internal democracy', and declared that the DAP wants to set up an 'independent' commission into this mass media 'conspiracy'ÖÖ..

"If what Lim Kit Siang and company want to hear are praises from the media, they can always buy over the media, or think of a way to gain political power and appoint their people as the 'editor-in-chief ' of all editors-in-chief,  and stop talking about democracy and good governance.  At least Prime Minister and Home Minister Mahathir never threatened to set up such an independent commission to investigate the press just because of their reports on the KLIA. DAP is so remote from political power, yet Lim Kit Siang is thinking of  suppressing channels of free speech, which is something which makes one shudder."

I want to ask Nanyang Siang Pao whether it feels that I was referring to it when I spoke about  "certain mass media who devote daily extensive coverage to the DAPís internal problems, often times putting the DAP on the front page,  when previously they would black out all news about the DAP to the extent that the name 'Lim Kit Siang' is banned in reporting of parliamentary debates?"

I also want to ask Nanyang Siang Pao to justify how the wild and outrageous allegations in its editorial today, particularly  in the two paragraphs that I quoted, that I want to censor the mass media and suppress freedom when I have no political power, is justified by my statement in Penang.

I have said that "facts are sacred but comments are free", but this does not mean that comments can be totally wild and outrageous as in the final two paragraphs of the NYSP editorial.

NYSP seems to regard the  proposal for an independent study into the unfair coverage of the DAP crisis by certain mass media as a threat to stifle press freedom in Malaysia. Does this mean that NYSP wants the  press freedom in Malaysia to include the right to be unfair to opposition parties?

Although I was not referring to NYSP when I spoke about the DAP proposal to commission an independent study on the unfair coverage of certain mass media, it cannot go unnoticed that NYSP has not  been fully fair and even-handed in its coverage of the DAP crisis.

A good case in point is its coverage today.  Its lead story on page 2 on  the accusation by Wee, Liew and Fung with regard to the decisions by the DAP Disciplinary Committee carries the heading "Deprive Party Election Participation Opportunity" occupying two-thirds of the page.  However, the statement by the DAP National Organising Secretary, Tan Kok Wai, yesterday stating very clearly that Liew and Fung will be eligible to stand for Party elections at the DAP Congress on August 22 and 23 as their suspension of membership ends on August 11 was completely blacked out!  Is this fair and honest reporting?

I do not know  whether it is now  the official stand of the NYSP to  declare war against the DAP leadership, believing that this is the time to 'kill off' the DAP.

I have said that the DAP is faced with the most serious party crisis in the party's 32-year history, with a very systematic campaign to destroy the image and credibility of the leadership, both inside and outside the Party.

Inside the Party, the KOKS campaign is spreading the lie that the latest DAP troubles are  proof that whenever the DAP is poised for great achievements, there would be a party crisis  to spoil these political potential to benefit  the Barisan Nasional, that this is the work of a Barisan Nasional agent in the top DAP leadership, and in fact, there are even allegations that I had two meetings with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad where we had reached an agreement that Lim Guan Eng would be spared with regard to his Sedition and Printing Presses and Publications Act charges, in return for which, I am to destroy the Party by instigating the latest party crisis.

In fact, before the Court of Appeal decision on Lim Guan Eng case on April 1, 1998, there were people inside the Party who were spreading the tale that Lim Kit Siang had "changed" and had become very supportive of Mahathir, that there had been negotiations between Mahathir and me and that nothing would happen to Guan Eng at the Court of Appeal.  When the Court of Appeal enhanced Guan Eng's RM15,000 fine to three years jail on April 1, such vicious rumours have taken  a new twist that I am now destroying the DAP in exchange for Guan Eng's freedom!

Finally, I do not propose to comment on the various allegations which Wee, Liew and Fung had made against me not only since the Disciplinary Committee decision on Sunday, but before it, such as the outrageous allegation about the "blackhand" behind the Disciplinary Committee's decisions.

Wee, Liew and Fung have the right of appeal to the Central Executive Committee  and I do not propose to make any comments as their cases have to come up to the CEC.

(14/7/98)


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