Bernama stands indicted of perpetrating the  biggest hoax in Malaysian journalism unless it could prove the actual existence of the American Defense Council, that it is an “influential American group” and that its report had been circulated to aides of all US Congressmen

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Wednesday): Yesterday, Bernama editor-in-chief Jaafar Hussin denied that the national news agency had perpetrated the biggest hoax in Malaysian journalism  with its report on Malaysia by the so-called Washington-based American Defense Council (ADC).

Jaafar sought to refute my allegation that ADC could be a "phantom creature" claiming that the organisation has a permanent address and a registered telephone number in Washington.

He said the ADC’s  two-page report on Malaysia had identified its office address as 1747 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC and telephone number as (202) 271-3959.

Jaafar claimed that the ADC statement did not originate from the Bernama’s office in Washington but was received by Bernama in Kuala Lumpur and that after verifying the source, Bernama decided to run the story.

He said: "It is our standard practice to only release statements after verifying the source/s of the statements."

Unfortunately, Jaafar failed to explain how Bernama “verified the source”, how it was satisfied about its bona fide, that it was not a “phantom” outfit, as well as what made Bernama describe the ADC as “an influential Amercian group” or believe that its report had been distributed to aides of all United States Congressmen.

I know that as on Monday, Bernama had tried to telephone ADC through the Washington phone number but was unable to get through to anyone. If  the Bernama head office in Kuala Lumpur, on receipt of the ADC statement straight from Washington last  Friday, had “verified the source”, why was it necessary for the Bernama head office on Monday to try to contact  the ADC by phone again, just because I had alleged that Bernama had perpetrated the biggest hoax in Malaysian journalism?

I reiterate  that an American lobby group which does not even maintain a website cannot but be an ultra fringe group if it ever existed all.  Suspicions as to whether the ADC really exists or is a “phantom creature” to serve the biggest hoax  in the history of  Malaysian journalism  can only be heightened by Jaffar’s claim that the ADC  was faxed to the Bernama head office in Kuala Lumpur direct rather than to the Bernama office in Washington!  Who would have done such a thing unless there is some special connection between the so-called ADC and someone in the Bernama head office to perpetrate the biggest hoax in Malaysian journalism?

That ADC gives an address and a phone number in its two-page statement does not prove its existence.  As Bernama claims that it had “verified the source” before it decided to run the ADC story, can Bernama enlighten  Malaysians all the relevant details of this  “influential American group” -  its history, influence and the  galaxy of personalities and illuminaries who constitute its team?

Based on the Washington address given by ADC, I have received the following information on the Internet:

“I just checked. There is no American Defense Council at 1747  Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20006. In its place, I  found the James Madison Center for Free Speech, a center that is in no  way interested in Malaysian matters. Their contact info: Phone (812)  232-2434; Fax (812) 235-3685.

“For more info, please visit their website:”

A check on the reveals the “James Madison Center for Free Speech” website “founded to protect the First Amendment right of all  citizens to free political expression in our democratic Republic” and to support litigation and public education activities to that end.

It would appear that the ADC statement had given a fictitious address, which belonged to another lobby group, which operates with a website identifying itself and its principal officials.

Bernama must do better to prove that it had not perpetrated the biggest hoax in Malaysian journalism by establishing the actual existence of the American Defense Council, that it is an “influential American group” and that its report had been circulated to aides of all US Congressmen.

In this connection, Jaafar should not try to create a red herring when he said he could not understand why I had questioned and also described as a hoax another report released by Bernama on Aug 16 quoting a US-based group, the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR).

He said: "How could the report be a hoax when the Washington Times newspaper had published the same report."

Bernama must be the only national news agency in the world to regard the rightwing and moonies-owned Washington Times as its icon of international journalism.  Be that as it may, I did not allege that the NCPPR is a phantom creature or its report a “hoax”, but I did question Bernama’s description of NCPPR  as   a “non-partisan American think-tank”, when in actual fact, it   is only   a comparatively obscure “papa-mama”  think-tank outfit and a  reactionary, 'free market/conservative', Reagan/Bush campaign operation.

If Bernama believes that it had acted most professionally and completely aboveboard in keeping with the highest canons of journalism, is it prepared to welcome a public inquiry as to whether it had perpetrated the biggest hoax in Malaysian journalism to establish its innocence?

The most unprofessional way Bernama is defending itself against the serious allegation of having perpetrated the biggest hoax in Malaysian journalism does not inspire confidence in the journalistic ethics, independence or professionalism of the Malaysian national news agency.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman