New Straits Times To Be Sued For Defamation For Publishing Lies

Press Statement By Jeffrey Chew Special Investment Officer Of The Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng In Penang On 8 January 2010.

New Straits Times To Be Sued For Defamation For Publishing Lies That The Penang State Government Gave Free Land Worth Tens Of Millions Of Ringgit Of Free Land To A Private Company.

The Penang Chief Minister’s office regrets that the New Straits Times has continued to publishing letters written by BN spin masters that has a clear agenda to support BN by undermining the state government with deceit and lies. At the same time the New Straits Times have refused to give a clear undertaking that they will give the Penang state government the right to reply over distorted or untrue news published.

For instance, NST has refused to publish my explanation over Penang’s refusal to give a guarantee of 1,000 electrical and electronic engineers for a USD 3 billion investment in 2008, because of fears of Penang facing similar financial implications as the Federal government guarantees to the Port Klang Free Trade Zone that caused the RM 12.5 billion scandal.

NST’s refusal to give a right of reply has forced Penang state government to act defensively by choosing not to engage with NST. However NST has continued to publish stories and letters that is not only imaginative with the truth but contained blatant lies. Amongst the BN spin-masters is one Calvin Sankaran from Bukit Mertajam who claimed in his latest letter “MONORAIL: Come clean on project” published in the New Straits Times dated 2009/12/30 that the state government is proposing to provide free state land worth tens of millions of ringgit to a private company.

Calvin had alleged that there was no open tender system when the state government had selected MRails International Sdn Bhd for a privately-funded monorail project in Penang. Calvin then went on to make the lie that,
“Guan Eng also should justify the rationale behind according MRails preferential treatment by providing free state land worth tens of millions of ringgit.”

These allegations are untrue as they strike at the heart of the Penang state government’s core governing principles of Competency, Accountability and Transparency(CAT). Penang’s CAT governance has gained praise and commendation not only from the Auditor-General’s Report for turning around a projected RM 35 million budget deficit in 2008 to a record-breaking surplus of RM 88 million but also from Transparency International.

The present Penang Pakatan Rakyat state government was the first state in Malaysia that adopted the open tender system and does not practice the policy of giving free land or apply the previous state government’s practice of selling state land cheaply without open tender. NST’s hostile and unprincipled stance has left us with no choice but to sue NST for defamation to protect the integrity of the Penang state government.

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