(Penang, Tuesday): The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) should not continue its silence and should speak up against the grave threat to press freedom and democracy posed by the MCA takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press.
It is most regrettable that Suhakam has maintained a strange silence on the newest threat to human rights, although as far back as May 16, 2001, I had urged Suhakam to intervene against the further trampling of human rights, in particular the freedom of expression and a free press, resulting from the greater concentration of political party media ownership with MCA acquisition of two national Chinese newspapers, Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press.
Since then, DAPSY had lodged a formal complaint to Suhakam on the human rights threat posed by the MCA takeover of the two Chinese dailies. Suhakam therefore has no reason to remain bystander in this human rights battle.
Suhakam should also bear in mind that MCA’s takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press imperil the livelihood of the staff and journalists of the two Chinese national dailies, as MCA’s outright defiance of the overwhelming opposition of the Chinese community to the MCA gobbling up of the two Chinese newspapers would result in both these papers suffering the fate of Tong Bao.
Tong Bao was the first Chinese national newspaper the MCA took over but which had to fold up when its circulation plunged from 100,000 to 10,000 a day when it lost the confidence of the Chinese community.
Suhakam should convene a public hearing on the threat to press freedom posed by the MCA takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press, inviting both the proponents and opponents of the takeover to make their submissions.
MCA leaders who are opposed to the MCA takeover of the two Chinese dailies, like the MCA Deputy President, Datuk Lim Ah Lek, MCA Vice President and Health Minister, Datuk Chua Jui Meng and MCA Youth Leader, Ong Tee Kiat should also be invited to make their representations to Suhakam.