Chinese-based Barisan Nasional parties like MCA and Gerakan must be thoroughly ashamed of themselves that they could agree to allow RTM to plumb the abyss of journalistic ethics by distorting history to demonise Dong Jiao Zong and DAP on its news channels
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Monday): The Chinese-based Barisan Nasional parties like MCA and Gerakan must be thoroughly ashamed of themselves that they could agree to allow RTM to plumb the abyss of journalistic ethics by distorting history to demonise Dong Jiao Zong and DAP on its news channels in its two-part propaganda programme, entitled “Bahaya Cauvinisme” camouflaged as prime-time news.
The second segment of the blatant propaganda against Dong Jiao Zong and DAP, which was broadcast last night over TV1 Bahasa Malaysia news at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. and TV2 Mandarin news at 6.30 p.m (TV2 English news at 8 p.m. broadcast an edited version of the first segment and will broadcast the second segment tonight) was even more unethical, dishonest and outrageous than the first segment.
It started by zeroing its attack on the DAP for being “chauvinist” and a threat to national harmony by citing the 24-year case of six DAP Perak State Assemblymen who did not take their oath of allegiance to the Sultan of Perak at the swearing-in ceremony at the first meeting of the Perak State Assembly after the 1978 general election on August 4, 1978.
The segment showed a 1978 press clipping of a one-word newspaper headline quoting the Sultan of Perak describing the action “Derhaka” (Treason).
The segment was most irresponsible, mischievous and seditious in not giving a fair, balanced and proper picture of the incident. The DAP was caught by surprise by the incident, as it was never the DAP party policy that the DAP Perak State Assemblymen need not take the oath of allegiance to the Sultan of Perak on their election and the party fully agreed and accepted the Malay poverb “Dimana bukit dipijak disitu langit dijunjung” (You owe allegiance where you domiciled).
This was why as DAP Secretary-General at the time, I publicly apologized to the Sultan of Perak for the “unintended disrespect” which occurred because of a provision in the Perak State Constitution that a “non-Perak national” need not take such an oath, assuring him that the DAP fully upheld the Malaysian and State Constitutions and that every DAP state assemblyman in Perak owes allegiance to the Head of State of Perak.
The six Perak DAP State Assemblymen also realized their mistake and tendered their apology to the Sultan of Perak and took their oath of allegiance.
By giving a tendentious, selective and distorted account of the incident, the RTM programme was most dishonest, irresponsible and malicious calculated to distort history and demonise the DAP as chauvinist, anti-Malay and anti-Sultan – betraying the RTM charter as a national service to serve all Malaysians and not to pander to the partisan interests of any political grouping..
If the Barisan Nasional and RTM want to warn Malaysians about the dangers of chauvinism, communalism and extremism, are they prepared to show on TV the UMNO Youth Rally of 17th October 1987 which, according to the 1988 Government White Paper “Towards Preserving National Security” on the 1987 Operation Lalang arrests, carried banners with the words “MAY 13 HAS BEGUN” and “SOAK IT (KRIS) WITH CHINESE BLOOD”, the August 2000 episode where UMNO Youth leaders demonstrated outside and threatened to burn down the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala Lumpur because of the 1999 Suqiu election appeals which the Chinese-based Barisan Nasional parties and Cabinet had earlier endorsed or the seditious call by the UMNO Youth Education Bureau chairman, Dr. Adham Baba last Thursday for the closure of Chinese primary schools?
Barisan Nasional leaders and the RTM should explain why they have become so irresponsible as to want to distort history to demonise DAP as “chauvinist”.
They should in particular explain why they have gone as far back 43 years ago to distort history in the first segment by blaming Dong Jiao Zong for the UMNO-MCA political showdown before the 1959 general election, resulting in the capitulation of the then new MCA President, Dr. Lim Chong Eu, who had subsequently no say whatsoever in the nomination of the MCA candidates!
I can quote from the writings by Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman in the 70s and 80s where he described the present Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as a “Malay ultra” who attacked him “for being fair and impartial” when he was the first Prime Minister. Will RTM blazon on the television channels the words “Mahathir a Malay ultra - Tunku”?
The second segment accused the DAP of being “chauvinist” for opposing the 1984 plan of the Malacca State Government to demolish the 500-year-old ancient cemetery hill, Bukit China, for commercial profit.
DAP rejects the Barisan Nasional and RTM accusation of “chauvinist” as the DAP’s “Save Bukit China Campaign” was fully grounded on the concept of a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious Malaysia where historic sites regardless of race, religion or culture are all national heritages. Are the BN and RTM suggesting that Bukit China in Malacca should demolished and its 12,500 graves excavated after all?
The second segment made the ridiculous accusation that the DAP’s “chauvinism” made the Chinese-based Barisan Nasional parties afraid of losing Chinese votes in elections and therefore less amenable to make policy compromises with UMNO.
I challenge Barisan Nasional leaders to list out the “policy compromisees” which the Chinese-based Barisan Nasional parties dared not accept or agree in the past 36 years because of their fear of losing votes to the DAP – and let the people decide whether these issues have anything to do with “chauvinism”.
The second segment carried extracts of the speech by the Prime Minister at the recent National Patriotism Congress where he said that the government had never tried to implement a policy of assimilation in nation-building in Malaysia.
This is not what Mahathir said In 1994 and 1995, where he publicly admitted that the Barisan Nasional government had earlier tried to implement a policy of assimilation but had given it up, as it had come to realize that it could not be successful and therefore unsuitable for a plural society like Malaysia where integration and not assimilation should be the basis of nation-building.
In fact, the success of DAP “Save Bukit China campaign” was one of the high-water marks in the DAP campaign to replace assimilation with integration as the basis of nation-building policy in Malaysia.
Is the RTM prepared to broadcast such a correction over the various television channels if I can produce proof of such statements by Mahathir in 1994 and 1995?
The two-segment RTM propaganda attack on Dong Jiao Zong and DAP camouflaged as prime-time news is a most disgusting and disgraceful abuse of public television which tantamount to a criminal breach of public trust.
DAP and Malaysians are still waiting for the Barisan Nasional, and in particular the leaders of its Chinese-based political parties, for a proper explanation and accounting for such gross abuse of public television which raises the larger question as to what public resources and trust are safe from Barisan Nasional misuse and abuse!
DAP leaders and lawyers are studying the full contents of the two segments of “Bahaya Cauvinisme” to decide on the proper response to the malicious, seditious and anti-national RTM propaganda attack on Dong Jiao Zong and the DAP camouflaged as prime-times in the past two days.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman