Chor Chee Heung and Tan Chai Ho should be suspended as Deputy Ministers for seriously jeopardising the MSC project and Malaysiaís IT future until they have passed a test showing that they fully understand the meaning of the Bill of Guarantee of no   internet censorship


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
 

(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): Deputy Home Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung and Energy, Communications and Multimedia Deputy Minister Tan Chai Ho should be suspended for seriously jeopardising the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) as the Malaysian Silicon Valley and the national Information Technology (IT) policy to catapult Malaysia into the information age in announcing  internet censorship on Thursday with regard to Harakahís internet edition.

Yesterday, Chor issued a statement denying that he had said on Thursday that the Government would take strict action, including revoking or suspending the permit of Harakah if its Internet edition was updated more than twice a month.

He said: "What I meant was if Harakah violates the conditions of its permit to print more than twice a month, its permit may be revoked.

"As to its online edition, we hope PAS will not abuse the Governmentís policy of not censoring the Internet by spreading slander and lies. Although the Government cannot and will not censor the Internet, any lies and slander published by Harakah online are subject to legal action by affected parties."

Chorís claim that he had been misquoted is a gross injustice to Malaysian journalist, the latest example of a political leader putting the blame on reporters for allegedly misquoting him when it was the political leader who should have the humility to openly admit that he had made a mistake in saying the wrong thing.

Chor had not been misquoted at all when he announced internet censorship of Harakah online on Thursday.

This is, for instance, the Bernama report put on the Bernama website on Thursday, March 2 of Chorís statement:
 

If Chor had been misquoted, all that is needed is for him to issue a correction and there would have been no need  for the Prime Ministerís Department to overrule his statement and ask Bernama to issue  a note to editors saying the Prime Minister's Department had asked that subscribers "kill" or "ignore" the story carrying Chor's remarks!

If Chor had been misquoted, he would righteously put the blame on the reporters responsible - and not be so timid as to just come out with a mild statement of denial, after the world-wide damage done to Malaysiaís IT future, let alone his own political future.

There is further evidence  that Chorís statement was not a problem of misquotation by some irresponsible journalists, but reflected deliberate petty and vindictive politicking in utter disregard of the larger national interest, in particular the future of the MSC and the national IT policy.

On on same day (Thursday), the  Deputy Minister for Energy, Communications and Multimedia, Tan Chai Ho made the same announcement in an exclusive interview which appeared on the Nanyang Siang Pao (NYSP)  on Friday morning that the internet version of Harakah cannot be updated more than  twice a month!

The Prime Ministerís Department did not know of Tanís interview with NYSP and could not issue a directive to the Chinese daily to "kill or ignore" the reference!

Both Chor and Tan should be suspended as Deputy Ministers for seriously jeopardising the MSC and Malaysiaís IT ambition as great damage had been done despite the attempt by the Prime Ministerís Department to "kill" Chorís remarks - as news reports had already been sent out to all the IT centres of the world that the Malaysian government is not honouring its Bill of Guarantee of no internet censorship.

Both Chor and Tan should be suspended until they have passed a test to show that they understand fully the national IT policy as well as the full import of the Ten Bills of Guarantees which the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had assured the world - in particular with regard to no internet censorship in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Malaysian journalists and their professional organisations should take a stand to protest against Chorís attempt to make the journalists the scapegoat for his own political blunder - unless Malaysian journalists accept that part of their journalistic duties is to be the fall-guy for the mistakes of political leaders.

This is another  test of the professional integrity of Malaysian journalists.

(4/3/2000)


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman