Mega-million ringgit defamation suit against Utusan Malaysia will be filed after Chinese New Year

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): A mega-million ringgit defamation suit will be filed against Utusan Malaysia for a news report today alleging that I am not patriotic.

The Utusan Malaysia report (p. 9) under the headline, "Kit Siang tidak patriotik - PBPM" reads:

Utusan Malaysia must take full responsibility for this report and in particular  the heading "Kit Siang tidak patriotik".  If describing the Parliamentary Opposition Leader and a seven-term Member of Parliament as unpatriotic is not defamatory, then I do not know what is defamatory.

The defamation suit will be filed after the Chinese New Year.

I find it most regrettable that Utusan Malaysia has chosen to "black out" the reasons I have given to substantiate my claim that the Malaysian penal system has fallen far short of the minimum international standards for the treatment of prisoners in the Malaysian prisons while printing general attacks on me over the claim.

Has the Utusan Malaysia interviewed the Director-General of Prisons, Datuk Omar Mohamad Dan to get his response to my statement that the Malaysian penal system has violated the "Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners" adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 45/111 of 14 December 1990 as well as the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders 1955 and approved by the United Nations Economic and Social Councils in 1957 and 1977?

Has Utusan Malaysia interviewed Omar Dan to explain why a very healthy young Member of Parliament could lose  10 kg and develop multiple ailments five months after incarceration at the Kajang Prison, causing Guan Eng probably a lifetime back problem - and what is even more scandalous, why he misled the  Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Abduk Kadir bin Sheikh Fadzir to publicly deny such a 22-pound weight loss!

Utusan Malaysia should find out from Omar Dan why as Director-General of Prisons, he is not aware that requiring a prisoner to sleep on the cold hard cement floor without any mattress is non-compliance with minimum international standards for the treatment of prisoners?

I would suggest Utusan Malaysia do an in-depth investigation to ascertain for itself whether the Malaysian prisons comply with the minimum international standards for the treatment of prisoners, as for instance the following  UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners:

I want to stress that when I called for improvement of prison conditions as highlighted by Guan Eng’s experience, it is not just for Guan Eng but for all prisoners.

This is why I have suggested that  all prisoners are immediately issued with mattress on the very first day of their incarceration, and not as at present, only after the third month, so that prisoners henceforth are spared the ordeal  of Guan Eng of having his back  wrecked, probably for life,  by inhumane and cruel prison conditions.

Is Omar Dan prepared to immediately implement this proposal?

Omar Dan has not only failed to ensure that Malaysia’s prisons comply with the minimum international standards, he has also failed the 8,500-strong prison staff by securing for them  major improvements in their  salaries and working conditions to give them the  proper motivation to ensure that the Malaysian prison service is one of the world’s  best, most dedicated and most committed to justice for prisoners.

I will announce tomorrow my decision on the question as to whether I would institute a RM100-million defamation suit against the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheik Fadzir, for calling me a liar when I spoke about Guan Eng’s condition at Kajang Prison.


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