PENANG — Penang Gerakan lambasted Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for threatening to sue the press media for publishing the issue of the proposed projects to reclaim 6,000 acres of land in the sea of Penang.
Its secretary, Oh Tong Keong, said Lim’s threat is obviously a contravention of freedom of speech and freedom of the press to publish reports which are of public interest.
“Guan Eng and DAP leaders say they welcome freedom of speech and freedom of the press. But he is swallowing his own words,” said Oh in a statement.
Oh recalled that Guan Eng, who is DAP secretary-general, is fond of suing, threatening to sue, and putting the blame on the mass media for publishing unfavorable reports.
“This is a cause of concern for many who are worried that it may cause the index of our freedom of expression and freedom of the press at the international platform to slide down.”
Oh pointed out that the issue of the proposed projects to reclaim 6,000 acres of land was raised by the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan. Journalists from various presses, in carrying out their duties, merely reported what was said by the minister.
“If the State Government wants to take any legal action on this issue, it should take on the minister concerned and not target at the mass media.”
Oh said Guan Eng had during the annual International Freedom of Press Day stressed on the importance to give freedom to the mass media the right to circulate opinions in print without censorship.
“However, on records, Guan Eng is the only chief minister in Malaysia and Penang who has the most legal suits filed against newspaper organisations. Thus, his action contravenes the principle of freedom of press, giving bad impression that the mass media is oppressed by the government.”
“If the press published the news based on the statement made the minister is considered a misconduct, then “The Rocket”, an official organ of DAP as a media has always published the statements and quotes of Barisan Nasional leaders with distorted, baseless and untrue allegations. On the same note, Does BN has to set up a special monitoring team to check the reports by “The Rocket”, and any untrue and distorted allegations will be met with legal suits immediately from BN?”
Oh stressed that the stand of Gerakan to uphold the principle of freedom of press is not to pamper the media without any restraint to abide by laws of libel or sedition. But any legal action taken by the State Government must target at the right party and in this case the UMNO minister! Don’t tell us that Guan Eng has no guts to take on the UMNO minister?
Oh said that when the international body makes an assessment on our level of freedom for the press, it will not only target at the federal government, but at the overall government bodies in Malaysia. Though the State Government is run by Pakatan Rakyat, any legal action by them towards the media will be included as actions by the overall government bodies.