Letter to NST by LKS

December 24, 1999

New Straits Times,
Kuala Lumpur.

Dear Sir,

Time for a return to decent, responsible and civilized journalism

I refer to your editorial dated 22nd December 1999 entitled "Death of Decorum" and   todayís "Letter of the Day" entitled "Time Kit Siang accepted reality" by "Albert Kok Wee Choon Seremban".

I also refer to  the Desaís cartoon today on Fadzil Noor and me.  May be I should feel flattered that after being booted out of Parliament,  I am now pictured as even more powerful now than at  any time when I was an MP for 30 years and Parliamentary Opposition Leader for 25 years. But I am not. I feel very offended by the highly offensive cartoon today by M. Desa mischievously portraying me as manipulating the new Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Datuk Fadzil Noor on the puppet strings - especially with its ethnic and religious undertones.

Your editorial oozed with pomposity and hypocrisy when it  intoned:

Where was the NST when Barisan Nasional MPs brought  the last Parliament into disrepute by the lack of  "decorum, dignity and discipline" using foul language, offensive ethnic jokes as well as sexist remarks?  When did the NST wake up to realise that Parliament should be "a place for coherent and meaningful debates and exchange of ideas, not to inflame the baser instincts of politics" when it did not publish one per cent of my "coherent and meaningful debates and ideas" during my 30 years in Parliament!

The NST editorial used brand-name term of "street-brawling" coined by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and other offensive terms like "mob language", "show of muscles", "subverting the parliamentary process and proceedings", "rebel-rousers" and  "political whims".

The NST produced its "Cant of the Century" with the following close in its editorial:

There are no "scroundels".  There are however "scroungers" apart from "scoundrels" - and both fit description of those who are unmoved by the statutory rape of the Constitution and Parliament and yet could talk glibly about their fear that nothing will remain "sacrosant" (sic) again, (when they do not even  find the English language sacrosanct!)

Todayís NST "Letter of the Day" uses the same intemperate  language as the NST Editorial two days ago,  referring to "mindless statements", "sounds like a raving, ranting lunatic", "dumped by the voters",  "booted out of Parliament", "it is absolutely mind-boggling that he still has so much to say about the running of the country" when mentioning that a visit to my personal website "will reveal that since Nov. 30 this year, the day he ceased being an Opposition MP, Lim had released 49 statements to the media".

Firstly, let me thank the NST "letter-writer", whom I would have thought would be the same person as the editorial writer two days ago going just by the language and tone used, for counting for me the number of media statements/speeches I had made since Nov. 30. I hope he would make a regular practice of this.

I have no doubt however that if my 49  media statements/speeches had indeed sounded like a "raving, ranting lunatic", I would have made the New Straits Times 49 times, and often on the front-page, for this is what the NST would be waiting for - to give proof to Malaysians that I am indeed a "raving, ranting lunatic".

Why was the NST so merciful with me this time? Am I supposed to thank the NST for not running my statements/speeches so that I would not be  exposed  as a "raving, ranting lunatic"?

In the NST editorial two days ago, the objective was to denigrate the Barisan Alternative MPs and create division and distrust between  PAS and DAP, but in the "Letter of the Day" today, the objective is to denigrate the other leaders in the DAP to sow division and distrust among the DAP leadership.

On Monday,  the Dr. Mahathir accused me as being the "mastermind" and "puppet master pulling strings" in Parliament  over the walkout by Barisan Alternative MPs  in protest against the statutory rape of the Constitution and Parliamentary Standing Orders by the unconstitutional convening of the first meeting of the tenth Parliament.

He  said opposition MPs, "most of whom are new", would  not have touched on the legality of Parliament being convened not in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution  if I had not raised it.

The Prime Minister was insulting the intelligence and integrity of Barisan Alternative MPs thinking that just because Barisan Nasional MPs could be led by the nose by the Barisan Nasional  leadership, turning them into Parliamentary "yes-men" and "yes-women", Barisan Alternative MPs are the same.

The collective walkout by all the  Barisan Alternative  and PBS MPs on Monday was not pre-planned, as although the DAP, PAS and KeADILan MPs had a pre-council meeting on Sunday night, this had not involved the three PBS MPs who also joined in the walk-out on Monday.

The pre-council meeting of the Barisan Alternative MPs on Sunday night focussed on the issue of the legality of Parliament not convened in accordance with the Constitution and the parliamentary standing orders, and although the possibility of a protest walkout was raised, no decision was taken for a collective walk-out by the Barisan Alternative MPs the next morning as there were differences of opinion on the matter.

The collective walk-out by all  the BA and PBS MPs in the Dewan Rakyat on Monday was the  spontaneous protest and outrage of the Opposition MPs in their disgust at the Barisan Nasional's arbitrary and high-handed contempt for the Constitution, Parliament and the Yang di Pertuan Agong in refusing to  cancel the parliamentary  meeting and  convene instead on Dec. 29, 1999, so as to comply with the provisions of the Constitution and the Parliamentary Standing Orders as well as in time to approve the contingency finance bill to authorise government expenditures for the first six months of next year until approval of the 2,000 Budget.

It is clear from  local press coverage in the past few days  that there was  indeed a "puppet master" pulling strings, and he was  none other than Dr. Mahathir himself, who was  pulling strings to orchestrate an attack on the Barisan Alternative MPs for staging Mondayís walkout in protest against the statutory rape of the Constitution and Parliamentary Standing Orders and on me for allegedly "masterminding" the walkout.

Desaís "puppet string-pulling" cartoon today is, ironically, the  result of Dr. Mahathirís pulling of strings in his role as puppet-master in this campaign.

Dr. Mahathir had  pulled "strings" to orchestrate a multi-prong attack on the Barisan Alternative MPs and myself, firstly by schooling the other Barisan Nasional leaders, both at national and state level, to parrot his allegations against Barisan Alternative MPs and me.

Those who had parrotted Dr. Mahathir on this line included  the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Minister for Youth, Sports and Culture, Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, the Minister for Rural Development, Datuk Azmi Khalid, the Minister for Culture and Tourism, Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir,  Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Wira Mohd Ali Rustam and the Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Tan Sri Mohamad Isa Abdul Samad.

The second prong of the "puppet masterís string-pulling" is to orchestrate an attack in the Barisan Nasional-controlled mass media like the  New Straits Times to parrot Dr. Mahathirís attack against the Barisan Alternative MPs and myself, accounting for the editorial, letter to the editor and the cartoon which are the subject of this letter.

The third prong is to cultivate a new aviary not ostensibly connected to  the Barisan Nasional but who could  parrot Dr. Mahthirís line. This is why there is the recent mass media phenomenon where a few personalities are suddenly given prominence for every word they say against the Barisan Alternative and the  DAP, as if they represent a strong contingent of 20 Parliamentary and State Assembly members - when in actual fact, all their 20 candidates created history in all losing deposits. They could not even get one per cent of the total votes cast by the DAP in the recent general election, but from the prominent coverage given to their statements, one could be excused for thinking that they had secured two or three times the total votes cast by the DAP!

This is all very reminiscent of the primary role played by the mainstream mass media in the eight-day campaign of the  1999 general election in making it the dirtiest election in the nationís 42-year history with the  most unbelievably  unethical and irresponsible journalism where there is no respect for truth and facts whatsoever.

Normally such unethical and irresponsible journalism by the Barisan Nasional-controlled mass media are orchestrated to release their vicious power only during a general election campaign period, and are immediately withdrawn and  ended until the next general election campaign four or five years later.

But now, for the first time in Barisan Nasional history, such a vicious and malicious orchestration of the Barisan Nasional-controlled mass media are being redeployed  against the Opposition less than a month after the last general election -  which is an eloquent testimony of two things:

Someone made this perceptive posting on the Internet two days ago:

The general election is over. I would urge an end to  one-sided, biased, tendentious and downright dishonest reporting and writing in the Malaysian mass media and a return to decent, responsible and civilized journalism.

I hope you would be able publish this letter in reply to your editorial, "Letter of the Day" and cartoon.

Yours truly,
Lim Kit Siang