I am completely flabbergasted by  Sun report today that I had said "it is possible for the DAP to win two-thirds of the seats in Parliament and bring an end to BN rule"


Media  Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya, Monday):  I am completely flabbergasted by the Sun report today that I had said  that in the next general elections "It is possible for the DAP to win two-thirds of the seats in Parliament and bring an end to BN rule".

The Sun report  today said:
 

The statement the Sun report referred to is the text of a speech I made at the Subang DAP Branch Sympathy, Support and Solidarity with Lim Guan  Eng dinner held at Subang new village, Selangor on Saturday night, and released to the press yesterday,  but I am most shocked at the liberty taken by the reporter concerned who could put words into my mouth based on a two-paragraph reference to the coming general elections in my  prepared text, making me say things which I had never said.

The two paragraphs in the text of my speech referring to the next general elections were:
 

I am shocked that  this two-paragraph reference to the next general elections could be expanded  so "creatively"  and irresponsibly so  as to produce four  incorrect  and even downright false reporting  namely:

 For the past 32 years, I had consistently advocated  greater press freedom especially the repeal of the annual press licensing laws, but I have never hesitated to take a public stand against unfair and irresponsible journalism, as free press cannot be a   licence for  gutter journalism, lies and falsehoods against anyone.

Recently, some hostile elements whether inside or outside the Malaysian mass media had been making adverse comments about me, accusing me of  being as bad as or even worse than  the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on the ground that we have taken the  common stand  to attack the mass media.

They refuse to see that the basis of my criticism of the mass media is completely different from that of Mahathir.

Mahathir attacked the "negative reporting" in  the local mass media, not that the mass media are reporting untruths about certain issues, but that giving media coverage to the weaknesses or scandals in the public sector  like the continued breakdown of the baggage handling system or the rats problem at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport would undermine the country’s image and  credibility.  I do not accept this critique of the press, for I believe that it is only through criticism that there could be any improvement, whether for an individual, a political party, a government or a country.

My quarrel with certain mass media is not that they criticise the DAP or myself, but because they purvey lies and falsehoods and they deny me the right to reply and contradict them.

The Malaysian mass media, for instance, should take a stand as to how my  two-paragraph reference to the next general elections could be expanded into four incorrect or downright false assertions in a news report on it?   Is there a Malaysian Mass Media Council where those aggrieved by unfair and irresponsible reporting could lodge reports and seek redress and justice from the mass media peers?

I have not joined hands with Mahathir to condemn the mass media,  which is why  I publicly stated that the Prime Minister was wrong and  misinformed when he warned the DAP and the Chinese press not to use Malaysia to condemn Indonesia for the brutalities, atrocities and organised mass gang rapes  of women and children during the Indonesian riots in May, for neither the DAP nor the Chinese press had condemned the Indonesian government or nation for the atrocities. What we had done is to condemn the atrocities and mass gang rapes and those who perpetrated such crimes against humanity.

This is also why I disagree with the warning given by the Deputy Information Minister, Datuk Dr. Suleiman Mohamad yesterday, that government actions including charges under the Printing Presses and Publications Act would be taken against "foreign and local media" purportedly involved in "an on-going conspiracy" to bring down Mahathir as Prime Minister.

Suleiman said yesterday  that the economic crisis was being used as an excuse in furtherance of this cause and that it was obvious that some parties were using the foreign media to plot against Mahathir and bring him down.

If there is such an plot involving the local and foreign media to topple Mahathir as Prime Minister, then let there be a full debate in Parliament as it is a very serious allegation and the proper place to address it is Parliament.

(27/7/98)


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