(Kuala Terengganu, Thursday): After the Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO Deputy President, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi publicly "ticked" off the MCA leadership for its squabble over the MCA takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press, reminiscent of the eighties when an UMNO leader briefly took over the helm of MCA national leadership, MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik invited companies, groups and individuals to become "strategic partners" by taking up shares in Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd and adding value to Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd which publishes the two Chinese national dailies.
Ling said the MCA was willing to study ideas and proposals from anyone willing to come in and add to Nanyang's profitability, who must submit their proposals within 10 days by June 17.
"I will look at the proposals and if they are good enough, the MCA is even willing to settle for a minority stake in the company. This offer is open to everyone, whether it is a Chinese company, a Malay company or an Indian company.
"This is a purely business venture and if they are willing to make an offer of more than what Huaren Holdings paid for Nanyang, we are willing to consider it.'"
Ling's contempt and insensitivitiy to the protests and outrage of the Chinese community to the MCA takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press is mind-boggling or he would not have repeated the nonsense of its being a "purely business venture".
One is reminded of the Singapore Straits Times report of the open Selangor MCA revolt against Ling by some 1,500 MCA leaders and members at the Shah Alam Club on Wednesday night where MCA vice-president Datuk Chan Kong Choy "ridiculed the party boss, calling him arrogant" and " to thunderous applause from the audience"…"mimicked Dr Ling's characteristic voice" -
"This is a golden opportunity. We can make a lot of money.'"Now, the anti-Ling MCA faction led by MCA Deputy President Datuk Lim Ah Lek and Vice Presidents Datuk Chua Jui Meng, Datuk Chan Kong Choy and Datuk Ong Tee Kiat must wonder whether Ling's offer "open to every one, whether it is a Chinese company, a Malay company or an Indian company" is a gambit to checkmate their opposition to the deal by offering a stake in Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd to influential UMNO interests.
Ling's game-plan to snuff out opposition to the MCA takeover of the two Chinese newspapers by inviting strategic partners without any plan to give up MCA control was made evident by the MCA treasurer-general Tan Sri William Chek who said yesterday that Huaren Holdings Sdn Bhd will continue to have effective or joint control of Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd with a strategic partner or partners.
Ling should realise that his invitation for strategic partners cannot
meet the basic objections of the Chinese community to the MCA takeover
of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press to avoid three catastrophes, namely:
What MCA should do is to relinquish every single share of ownership in Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press as well as relinquish ownership of Star to allow for the emergence of a free, responsible and independent press.
Ling had held up the MCA-owned Star as a model of what the Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press could become after MCA acquisition, which would be a great disaster for the Chinese community and press freedom in Malaysia.
Gerakan President Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik had said that Gerakan leaders and Ministers had been at the receiving end of the unfair coverage by Star for the past ten years, and the Star's "blackout" of the statements and speeches of DAP leaders is a unchallenged fact.
Furthermore, the Star had also gone against the legitimate concerns, wishes and aspirations of the Chinese community on many issues, whether on Vision School, Damansara Chinese primary school issue, Suqiu or the MCA's handling of the Nipah disaster fund and the Chang Ming Thian Education Fund, among others.
Political party ownership of the mass media is a great threat to press freedom, the important human right of freedom of expression and democracy in Malaysia. The time has come for the civil society and Malaysians as a whole to demand for the dilution and end of political party ownership of the mass media - and this is why MCA must not only relinquish every share of ownership in Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press, it must start the process of relinquishing ownership in Star.
MCA should offer all its Star shares for sale in a manner whereby a free, responsible and independent press could be fostered in Malaysia, so that no mass media would fall into the hands of any political party or individual or group acting on behalf of political parties.