Press Statement by the Hon. Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang, in George Town on 4 May 2012.
The Recent Case of the New Straits Times’ Deliberate Lies and Fabrication of News Against Australian Senator Nick Xenophon Demonstrates why the Chief Minister is Compelled Not to Invite the Unethical UMNO-linked Press to his Functions Purely as an Act of Self-Defence; Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng Will Sue the New Straits Times Press and Utusan Melayu (Bhd) for the False Report of a Dinner with Senior Singapore PAP Leaders where National Secrets were Allegedly Disclosed
The recent case of the New Straits Times’ deliberate lies and fabrication of news against Australian Senator Nick Xenophon demonstrates why I am compelled not to invite the unethical UMNO-linked press to my functions purely as an act of self-defence against such accomplished serial liars.
The New Straits Times has admitted that it falsely replaced the word “Scientology” with “Islam” in a speech quoted in its 2 May 2012 news report, which claimed that the Australian Senator had called Islam a “criminal organisation” and which accused him of being “anti-Islam”.
Like Senator Xenophon, Malaysians are also sickened by the UMNO-linked press’s blatant fabrication of lies passed off as news to the Malaysian public. The Penang State Government is therefore fully justified in refusing to allow its press conferences and State functions to be deliberately misreported and misrepresented by the UMNO-linked press. Although we believe in the freedom of the press, the refusal of the UMNO-linked media to abide by the basic ethics of truthful journalism, and their refusal to give me the right of reply to correct false news, leaves me without any choice but to act in self-defence by declining any news coverage from the UMNO-owned papers. Much as we want news coverage, better no coverage than coverage filled with hurtful lies, slander and falsehoods.
It has been reported that Senator Xenophon intends to go ahead and sue the New Straits Times for the damage that has been done to his reputation, despite the newspaper’s admission of guilt and statement of regret. In the case of a false news report carried by the New Sunday Times, Mingguan Malaysia and Berita Minggu on 2 October 2011, which was defamatory of me, Datuk Mohamed Azman Yahya and Datuk Seri Kalimullah Hassan, I have not received a single word of apology or of clarification.
These articles published in the UMNO-linked press carried PERKASA’s allegation that I, together with Datuk Azman and Datuk Seri Kalimullah, had attended a dinner with senior Singapore PAP leaders at which Malaysian national secrets were allegedly discussed. No attempt was made by these “newspapers” to clarify the allegation by contacting the parties alleged to have been involved.
These UMNO-linked “newspapers” have since apologised to Datuk Seri Kalimullah and to Datuk Azman for their false and defamatory allegation, but for political reasons have refused, in spite of my lawyers’ requests, to pay any damages or to publish any clarification or apology concerning the allegations against me.
I am therefore announcing that I will be instructing my lawyers to proceed to file an action for defamation in the High Court against PERKASA, the New Straits Times Press and Utusan Melayu (Bhd). I do not have the resources and ability to file a court defamation action every time the UMNO-linked media defame me. Even without their news coverage, the New Straits Times has continued to run defamatory articles against me. Imagine how many more court actions I would have to file if they were invited to run riot with lies at my news conferences.
LIM GUAN ENG