(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): MCA President Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik believes that the issue of MCA’s takeover of two Chinese dailies will eventually blow over.
He said: "You can never get 100% support. After some time, this thing will settle down …In politics, you can never get 100% support. I am happy so far."
Ling’s arrogance is inconceivable, which must stem from his belief that he has the full backing of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad himself for the MCA takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press, although the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had been moved from the rumblings in the MCA, the Barisan Nasional and the Chinese community to express his concern at the MCA squabble over the takeover.
Ling must be made to realise that even if he succeeded in wiping out the MCA faction opposed to the takeover led by MCA Deputy President, Datuk Lim Ah Lek, MCA Vice Presidents Datuk Chua Jui Meng, Chan Kong Choy and Ong Tee Kiat, he is gravely mistaken if he believes that the Chinese community furore and outrage over the MCA takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press could blow over, that eveything will be forgotten and the Chinese community would settle down to accept the two Chinese newspapers owned and controlled directly or indirectly by MCA.
Ling should realise that the unavoidable result of such an obstinate attitude is to imperil the livelihood of the over 1,000 workers in Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press as the two Chinese newspapers would then suffer the fate of the previous MCA-owned daily, Tung Bao - when it had to close down when its circulation plummetted from 100,000 to 10,000 daily.
Yesterday, Ling said that MCA is prepared to give up its entire share in Nanyang Press Holdings which its investment arm Huaren Holdings purchased for RM230 million last week, “if there are companies willing to pay five times more than the RM5.50 per share we paid”.
Ling is insulting the intelligence of the Chinese community and the country in making such an outrageous claim that MCA would relinquish control of the two Chinese newspapers if it is offered RM1,150 million or five times the price MCA paid for the two Chinese newspapers last week!
In actual fact, the MCA must relinquish its ownership in the two Chinese newspapers, even if it means MCA have to suffer a loss from the transaction or it must pay an even higher political price!
The 10-day deadline given by Ling to companies, groups and individuals to become "strategic partners" by taking up shares in Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd and MCA’s willingness to become a minority shareholder in the takeover deal is totally irrelevant and mere “red herrings”.
This is because MCA’s minority stake or even a single golden share in Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press is completely unacceptable to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese community and Chinese education as well as to ensure a free, independent and responsible press.
A golden share is one where the owner is vested the final executive and editorial decisions in the running of the company, and even if MCA sells off all its shares in Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd keeping only one golden share, the whole deal must be opposed until MCA relinquishes the golden share and give up all effective executive and editorial control over the newspapers.
MCA leaders like the Human Resources Minister, Datuk Dr. Fong Chan Onn have been justifying the MCA takeover of Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd as necessasy to prevent “Malay takeover” of the Chinese press. In this case, Ling should explain why he said two days ago that MCA is prepared to sell MCA’s stake in the two Chinese newspapers to Malay companies!
The MCA as well as the Malaysian citizenry should focus attention
not only on relinquishing MCA takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press,
but on how MCA should relinquish its ownership of The Star, as for
instance, in selling MCA’s shares in The Star to a trust which could comprise
staff of The Star as well as public-interest bodies and interested Malaysians
with the view to paving the way for the emergence of a free, independent
and responsible press unencumbered by political party ownership.