The Penang State government will invite NST to cover state government functions when NST agrees to give us a right of reply to distorted, erroneous and false reporting. This act of self-defense is forced upon the state government as a result of NST’s refusal to give the Penang state government a “right to reply” to correct inaccurate or false reporting.
There were two letters sent by Lim’s press secretary on 19 March 2009 and Penang State EXCO member YB Abdul Malik Kassim on 25 March 2009 rebutting false reports by NST which NST have refused to print.
Clearly NST is behaving like a bully in refusing to observe a basic tenet of press freedom by hearing both sides and giving us the right to reply. In cognizance of UMNO as NST owner and protector, the Penang government has no choice but to protect itself by disengaging from NST. This act of self-defense is necessary to avoid falling victim again and again to distorted and false reporting by a paper that refuses to grant a right of reply.
Whilst I respect Karpal’s view, the Penang State Government’s focus on fighting for the economic livelihood of every Penangite make us in no position to play games or match resources with NST backed by the full resources of UMNO. This disengagement from NST until NST publish our replies is consistent with the action taken against Utusan by Pakatan Rakyat.
As for Utusan Malaysia, the boycott of the paper was decided last year by the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) National Leadership Council due to the paper’s promoting politics of hate amongst races and religions. DAP had endorsed the boycott taken by PR in protest at Utusan’s divisive and hostile reporting.