Strongest objection to the New Straits Times dubbing of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Justice,  Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance adopted at "The Return of the Legal Eagles" last night as "Repeating the sentiments voiced largely by the foreign media"


Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya, Monday):  This is to formally release the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Justice, Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance unanimously adopted by over 400 Malaysians at "The Return of the Legal Eagles" at Federal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur last night.

The signatories to the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Justice, Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance include the panellists of "The Return of the Legal Eagles", namely Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy, Karpal Singh, Ramdas Tikamdas, S.D. Sharma, Abdul Razak Ahmad, Sivarasah Rasiah, Lim Guan Eng and  Lim Kit Siang.

Leading personalities of the civil society, representatives of political parties and  NGO activists also attended the "The Return of the Legal Eagles" last night and endorsed the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Justice, Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance. They include Dr. Syed Husin Ali, Chairman of Parti Rakyat; Dr. Sanusi Othman, Secretary-General, Parti Rakyat; Dr. Mohamad Nasir, Protem Chairman, Socialist Party Malaysia; Irene Fernandez of Tenaganita and Fan Yew Teng, former DAP MP. Professor Jomo, K.S. and A. Ramakrishnan of Aliran have expressed their endorsement of the Declaration although they could not attend the forum because of other prior engagements.

The Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Justice, Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance states:
 

I will seek an appointment with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to present the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Justice, Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance to the Government, and to ask that the Declaration be tabled for a special study by the Cabinet.

I thank the New Straits Times for reporting on "The Return of the Legal Eagles" in today’s issue, although I must express my strongest objections to the New Straits Times dubbing the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Justice, Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance as "Repeating the sentiments voiced largely by the foreign media".

The New Straits Times reporter has  insulted  the intelligence and integrity of the distinguished panellists, comprising some of the most senior, outstanding, courageous and upright lawyers in the country, as well the leading personalities in the civil society many of whom had dedicated their lives to the betterment of the country out of a supreme sense of patriotism not easily to be found either in the comfort of the ruling parties or the controlled media, as well as the more than 400 lawyers and model Malaysians concerned about the great issues of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance in making the insinuation that they are mindless tools and puppets of the foreign media.

Let me tell the NST reporter who wrote the report yesterday that the  Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Justice, Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance is not the work of any foreign journalist, but represents the conviction of full-blooded Malaysians who really love and care for truth and justice and the future of Malaysia - unlike the reporter who could make such vicious and baseless insinuation.

Many of the demands made in the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Justice, Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance, like calls for greater democratisation and removal of draconian laws like the Internal Security Act, the Official Secrets Act, the Sedition Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the Police Act, had been the calls of political parties, NGOs and Malaysians down through the decades - and have nothing to do whatsoever with the foreign media.

These calls were in the Gagasan Rakyat General Elections Manifesto 1990 and again in the DAP General Elections Manifesto 1995 calling for Full Liberalisation and Greater Democratisation.

The New Straits Times should apologise for mixing reportage and comments.  If the New Straits Times want to echo or even anticipate the Prime Minister’s response to the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Justice, Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance (as some reporters are already so brainwashed that they can read the mind of the Prime Minister), and take a partisan stand, then let it open up its columns in the New Straits Times for a full debate on the Declaration and the increasing demands of Malaysians for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

For a start, is the New Straits Times prepared to publish in full the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Justice, Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance as well as my speech at "The Return of the Legal Eagles" last night, state the New Straits Times response to both, and invite a full public debate.

If the New Straits Times is not prepared to do so, then it should apologise for a most unprofessional write-up of "The Return of the Legal Eagles" in today’s NST.

(23/6/98)


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