Abdullah should end the hold-back of the 24th April issue of Economist and order its immediate release so that it would be seen as a reprisal for its 3rd April special survey on Malaysia
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Friday): Acting Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that the government will rebut allegations made by The Economist in its special feature on Malaysia in its April 3 issue, entitled The Changing of Guard – A Survey of Malaysia.
National Economic Action Council executive director Datuk Mustapha Mohamed has been tasked with drafting the letter to The Economist.
Abdullah said the London-based magazine had replied to a letter by the government, stating that it would apologise for any factual errors but assumed responsibility arising from their views, though giving the government the opportunity to air its views.
This is clearly a more civil and smart manner in dealing with the furore over the articles in the special survey of The Economist which is more in keeping with an information era, as compared with the fire-breathing and arm-twisting threats by some UMNO leaders which reflected adversely more on Malaysia than on the British weekly.
DAP looks forward to the government’s rebuttal of The Economist survey, and will consider coming out with its own stand on both The Economist survey and the government rebuttal.
In fact, both The Economist survey and the government rebuttal should be the subject of nation-wide discussion and debate if Malaysia is to develop the “First World Infrastructure, First World Mentality” whose absence had been the topic of Abdullah’s lament in his first policy speech as Acting Prime Minister in early March.
In the meanwhile, DAP calls on Abdullah to order the Home Ministry Publications Division to end the hold back of the 24th April issue of Economist and to immediately release the publication so that it would not be seen as a reprisal against its 3rd April special survey on Malaysia, which would give the unfortunate impression that the government has no confidence in the merit and cogency of its rebuttal to The Economist survey and has to enlist support from some arm-twisting tactics.
The April 24 issue of The Economist carries an article critical of the sodomy trial of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and the dismissal of his appeal by the Court of Appeal. Surely, the government’s credibility and control are not so fragile that it regards any article in any foreign publication critical of the government’s handling of the Anwar Ibrahim issue as capable of precipitating a crisis of confidence in the government?
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman