Malaysiakini reported in an exclusive story yesterday:
“The Sun’s brassy coverage of the MCA factional crisis since the controversial takeover of two major Chinese-language dailies - Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press - have incurred the wrath of the party’s embattled Team A.
“Malaysiakini learnt that Team A, led by MCA president and Transport Minister Dr Ling Liong Sik, was so dismayed with The Sun’s coverage that at least five meetings were held with the daily’s top editors to discuss the matter.
“According to a high-ranking party source, MCA vice-president Dr Fong Chan Onn was the key party leader in demanding the meetings with the daily’s editors.
“Fong, who is minister of human resources, headed the MCA delegation at the meetings, which involved other top party leaders. However, Ling did not attend any of the meetings.
“At the meetings, the MCA leaders complained to the editors about the extensive coverage given to their rivals.”
The Malaysiakini report also said:
“Another source informed malaysiakini that before these meetings, The Sun’s top management had received numerous phone calls from MCA’s Team A leaders complaining about its reports.
“This resulted in the daily’s executive director and editor-in-chief H’ng Hung Yong sending a letter to The Sun’s chairperson and owner, business tycoon Vincent Tan, in early October to clarify the newspaper’s editorial stand.
“It is believed that in the letter, H’ng explained that The Sun had always been careful of reporting events factually and accurately.
“The source said H’ng lamented that certain MCA’s Team A stalwarts and officials were unwilling to talk to The Sun’s reporters and were instead more friendly to The Star, which is owned by the Chinese political party.
“’At times, The Sun held back reports from Team B until an equivalent report was obtained from Team A,’ said the source, adding that Ling had spurned the paper's request for an interview.”
If the pressures from the MCA Team A led by its president was the real cause for the decapitation of editorial leadership of the Sun, using the controversy over the Christmas Day front-page story about the plot to assassinate the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister as an excuse, this constitutes the first major subversion of press freedom in Malaysia in the 21st century and must be deplored by all freedom-loving Malaysians.
In its second annual report, the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), should focus a special section on the threats to freedom of speech, assembly and association, in particular the threats to press freedom as highlighted by the MCA takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press as well as the editorial resignations and suspensions in the Sun, and make recommendations for special Parliamentary debate as to how to ensure vigorous, vibrant, independent and responsible mass media in the country as a vital component for the sustenance of democracy in Malaysia.