(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:
"Timbalan Presiden PBPM, Sheikh Tahir Muhammad berkata, kenyataan Kit Siang yang mendakwa keadaan penjara di Malaysia tidak mencapai tahap minimum Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (PBB) jelas membuktikan beliau seorang yang tidak bertanggungjawab.
"Beliau berkata, kenyataan itu jelas berunsurkan politik semata-mata, memandangkan Kit Siang telah gagal dalam semua usahanya untuk membebaskan anaknya, Lim Guan Eng daripada hukuman penjara.
"’Jika dakwaan beliau itu benar, mengapa keluarga tahanan lain tidak pernah membangkitkan perkara itu.
"’Mereka sering melawat saudara-mara yang ditahan dan tahu keadaan penjara,’ tegasnya sebagai mengulas kenyataan Kit Siang baru-baru ini.
"Kit Siang dalam kenyataan berkata, keadaan kesihatan anaknya, Guan Eng, semakin terjejas berikutan layanan buruk ketika berada di Penjara Kajang yang disifatkannya jauh daripada mencapai tahap minimum seperti ditetapkan oleh PBB.
"Sheikh Tahir berkata, kerajaan perlu mengkaji kenyataan Kit Siang itu dan mengambil tindakan sewajarnya jika dakwaan tersebut ternyata tidak benar.
"Sehubungan itu, beliau turut meminta Kit Siang mengemukakan permohonan untuk melakukan lawatan khas ke penjara seluruh negara bagi meninjau sendiri keadaan di dalam penjara di negara ini."
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:
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.