I do not know who are the people who are responsible for briefing Mahathir about the Chinese community, Chinese education and the Chinese newspapers but these people are doing a great disservice to the Malaysian nation-building process and national unity in giving the Prime Minister a totally wrong and distorted version from the truth.
Mahathir should not accept 100 per cent the explanations given by MCA leaders for instance for the Barisan Nasional defeat in the Lunas by-election as they dared not speak the truth but only want to look for scapegoats - just as it was convenient for the MCA leadership to use the Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press as scapegoats for the Barisan Nasional defeat in Lunas to justify the MCA takeover of the two Chinese newspapers.
From his statements in the past few days, Mahathir had made various
These allegations may look good to ground some arrests of DAP leaders under the Internal Security Act, especially as there is no need to produce any iota of evidence to justify the fairy-tale charges under the ISA, but there is simply no truth whatosever in them.
DAP had consistently advocated a Malaysian-centred nation-building process which gives full recognition to the multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious heritage of Malaysia, and it is a blatant lie for anyone to accuse the DAP of advocating “Chinese special rights” or that the DAP does not want Chinese schoolboys to mix with Malay schoolboys. Nobody has heard of “Chinese special rights” until its invention by Mahathir.
The Prime Minister seems to have forgotten that there are 70,000 Malay and Indian students in the Chinese primary schools - which debunks the allegation that the DAP stands for the racial segregation of the school-children in the primary schools.
The allegation that the DAP has virtually taken over the Chinese newspapers, in particular Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press, after the 1999 general elections is most laughable if not for the fact that such a ludicrous and baseless charge is used as a political buttress to threaten press freedom and justify the MCA takeover of the two Chinese newspapers as a “strategic political investment”!
Yesterday, Mahathir advised newspapers to report the truth and not have an agenda. He said: “Don’t have your agenda and then fix your report in order to suit your agenda. If you start fixing the reports and try to influence readers, you are not doing your readers a service.”
Is Mahathir aware that his description of such newspapers having an agenda and fixing their reports to suit their agenda best describes newspapers owned by Barisan Nasional parties, like the Star, New Straits Times, the Berita Harian, Utusan Malaysia and Utusan Melayu? Is his advice meant for them?
Mahathir had asked why MCA cannot own Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press when UMNO can own Utusan. The answer is very simple. Two wrongs do not make a right. It is not only MCA which should relinquish ownership of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press, UMNO should also relinquish ownership of Utusan and the New Straits Times Group so that a free, independent and responsible press has the chance to take root in the country.
The Prime Minister’s gross misperceptions and misunderstandings about the Chinese community, Chinese education and the Chinese press is a matter of grave concern as such government misperceptions and misunderstandings can only poison the well of inter-racial relations and become a major obstacle to a successful nation-building process.
This is why the Cabinet at its meeting tomorrow should give top priority to this subject - as all the Chinese Ministers in Cabinet should speak up as to whether they agree with the Prime Minister’s gross misperceptions and misunderstandings about the Chinese community, Chinese education and Chinese newspapers.
The Cabinet should consider the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry to establish whether Mahathir's allegations against Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press are fair or completely unfounded - firstly, that they had been guilty of inciting racial hatred against the Malays and the government, and secondly, that they have become puppets of the DAP to win back Chinese support after the 1999 general elections and create hatred among the Chinese towards the Barisan Nasional and the Prime Minister.
I am so confident that the allegations which Mahathir had made against Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press are so outrageous, preposterous and untrue that I had proposed that the independent commission into Mahathir's allegations against the two Chinese newsapers be headed by the Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sir Dr. Koh Tsu Koon.
This will be a good occasion for Mahathir to learn who to believe or disbelieve when getting information whether about the Chinese community, Chinese education or the Chinese newspapers.