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China Press punishment a triple blow – a  “black day” for media freedom, a shame to the MCA Ministers  and a setback for an administration which claims it  is open, fair and prepared to listen to the truth



Media Statement (3)
by Lim Kit Siang  

Parliament, Friday): The Internal Security Ministry’s punishment of China Press for its erroneous report in its evening edition on Nov. 23 wrongly claiming that the nude woman in the ear-squat video clip scandal was a Chinese national is a triple blow – a “black day” for media freedom, a shame to the MCA Ministers and a setback for an administration which claims it it is open, fair and prepared to listen to the truth.

The punishment meted out to the China Press by the Internal Security Ministry were firstly, a front-page apology and secondly, the resignation “with immediate effect” of two senior China Press editors, Editor-in-Chief Chong Choon Nam and executive editor-in-chief Wang Siew  Ping.


Did China Press make a mistake? Yes. Was China Press the only newspaper to make the mistake? No!


In the circumstances, why was China Press picked out as the only newspaper to be “punished”?  Other newspapers which made the same mistake included Utusan Malaysia which carried the screaming headline “Rakam video wanita rakyat China bogel hangatkan Parlimen” on Nov. 25, 2005. At least China Press had removed the wrong reference in the evening edition in its morning edition the next day.


I am not suggesting that other newspapers like Utusan Malaysia  which had made the mistake should be similarly  punished by the Internal Security Ministry, but it is clearly unfair and selective “punishment” to just zero in on China Press.


The “punishment” of China Press becomes even more blatant and unacceptable when there are personalities and parties which had been allowed to get off scot-free although they had committed  much more heinous  mistakes detrimental to the interests of the nation, for instance, the Deputy Internal Security Minister, Datuk Seri Noh Omar, who committed not one but two colossal blunders – in not disclosing to the public and the world that the woman victim was not a Chinese national but a local Malay woman as the police had known of her nationality right from the beginning and the outrageous statement telling foreigners to go home if they thought the Malaysian police were cruel.


The mistake made by China Press, Utusan Malaysia and other media in wrongly identifying the nude woman as a Chinese national would have been immediately corrected if Noh Omar had not made his first of two blunders  in keeping the country and the world in the dark for some three weeks about her  nationality.

If Chong and Wong have to resign, why is Noh Omar spared?


Utusan Malaysia today reported that the resignation “with immediate effect”  of the two senior China Press editors  was forced by the Internal Security Ministry yesterday:

KUALA LUMPUR 5 Jan. - Ketua Pengarang dan Ketua Pengarang Eksekutif akhbar The China Press Bhd. meletak jawatan dipercayai ekoran penyiaran berita seorang wanita yang didakwanya warga China diarah ketuk-ketampi dalam keadaan bogel di sebuah lokap Ibu Pejabat Polis Daerah (IPD) Petaling Jaya, 23 November lalu.

Chong Choong Nam dan Wong Siew Teng mengambil tindakan itu setelah mendapat desakan Kementerian Keselamatan Dalam Negeri (KDN) yang meminta mereka bertanggungjawab terhadap penyiaran berita itu.

Difahamkan, ketika berita itu disiarkan dalam akhbar China Press edisi petang keluaran 23 November lalu, Choong Nam dan Siew Teng sedang bercuti.

Utusan Malaysia dimaklumkan bahawa KDN hari ini telah menghantar satu kenyataan bertulis mengumumkan peletakan jawatan Choong Nam dan Siew Teng berkuat kuasa serta-merta.

Faksimile dari KDN itu dihantar ke jabatan pengarang akhbar itu petang ini.

The Minister for Internal Security is the Prime Minister himself. Has the China Press “punishment” of the  Internal Security Ministry received the endorsement of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, or is it only the work of one of the two Deputy Internal Security Ministers, Noh Omar and Chia Kwang Chye?

Can the Internal Security Ministry explain why China Press is punished but  Noh Omar is spared?


The whole episode is a shameful reflection of the authority  and influence of MCA Ministers in government – where MCA-owned China Press is punished but UMNO-owned Utusan Malaysis is spared for the very same mistake.


But most serious of all, it is a sad day for Malaysians who had been hoping and waiting for liberalization of the media under the Pak Lah administration and the coming of a government which is truly prepared to listen to the people.


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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