Rais should ask Gani to study the prosecution of RTM and Barisan Nasional for the offence of publishing “false news” for the nightly 90-second political  propaganda footage camouflaged as prime-time news

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Friday): In the past two days, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim had been very busy, proclaiming that “the Attorney-General’s Chambers is studying if there was any seditious element in Pas’ repeated stand that the Sauk stand-off two years ago was staged”. (New Straits Times 10.1.2002)

Yesterday, Rais returned to the subject and seemed to be pressuring the new Attorney-General, Datuk Abdul Gani Patail to institute prosecution proceedings against PAS.  (The Star 11.1.2002).

In contrast, Rais has been strangely silent on the failure so far of the Attorney-General to  prosecute anyone for the outrageous Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP) multiple examination scandals, which have far-reaching implications affecting public confidence in the administration of justice, the very integrity of the legal and judicial professions, the reputation of the professional examinations and Malaysia’s international repute as an international centre of academic and professional excellence.

There is another important subject which Rais has kept his silence. If Rais regards himself as a de facto Law Minister, he should discharge his responsibilities in a balanced and even-handed manner and not regard his Cabinet office as a handmaiden of the Barisan Nasional juggernaut to persecute and victimise the Opposition and dissent.

Rais should ask the new Attorney-General  to study whether there is a case to prosecute  RTM and Barisan Nasional for the offence of publishing “false news” for the nightly 90-second political  propaganda footage camouflaged as prime-time news over the various television channels since the end of last year, aimed solely at influencing the Indera Kayangan by-election voters in Perlis  to believe that the Barisan Alternative represents a repressive, intolerant and inhuman Taliban Malaysia, with PAS as the chief proponent and Parti Keadilan Nasional the abettor, and to influence them to vote for the Barisan Nasional on polling day on January 19, 2002.

When  the 90-second Barisan Nasional propaganda footage camouflaged as prime time news was first telecast about two weeks  ago, it was only  on RTM1 8 p.m. news. Progressively, it was  extended to RTM2 English 8 pm  news,  then TV3 8 pm  news, then RTM1 6 p.m. news.  This  propaganda footage is now broadcast  nightly over  RTM2 6.30 p.m. Chinese news with a Mandarin voice-over - and it is going to stay put until the end of the  Indera Kayangan by-election polling.

Information Ministry's parliamentary secretary Datuk Zainuddin Maidin has said that  it was “a mere coincidence” that his Ministry was running the  nightly 90-second political broadcast just as Indera Kayangan by-election was approaching, and that it was “meant to be shown from time to time over a long period” and “part of our psychological warfare against the extremists”.

I am sure it  will also be “a mere coincidence” that the nightly 90-second political propaganda broadcast camouflaged as news, now in full swing in the various television channels and different languages,  will be discontinued immediately at the close of the Indera Kayangan  by-election campaign!

RTM and Barisan Nasional have committed the serious offence under the Printing Presses and Publications Act of publishing “false news” in passing off blatant political propaganda as news - and what is worse, night after night, using the same political propaganda as “news footage”, which qualifies Malaysian television news channels to get into the Guinness Book of Records for the longest telecast of the same “false news” as news, a period of some three weeks!

DAP is not saying that there should not be political commercials on radio and television, but there should be no abuse or criminal offence - as in violating the Printing Presses and Publications Act of publishing “false news”.

The Information Minister, Tan Sir  Khalil Yaakob should explain whether the nightly broadcast  of the Barisan Nasional political propaganda footage camouflaged as prime-time news for the past fortnight was brought up and discussed at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, or whether there is  no Cabinet Minister left who can distinugish the difference between news and propaganda.

I am surprised that up to now, there has been no strong or commensurate response from either  PAS or Parti Keadilan Nasional to the nightly broadcast of the 90-second propaganda camouflaged as news painting them  as anti-national political parties wanting to bring about a Malaysia akin to Taliban’s Afghanistan where women are oppressed, human rights violated, chaos and mayhem rule the country and national sovereignty and independence subverted.  I had expected that both PAS and Parti Keadilan Nasional would have already filed  legal proceedings for an injuction to stop all such unfair and biased  broadcasts.

If the government is convinced that its 90-second  political propaganda footage against PAS and Parti Keadilan Nasional is legitimate, justified and valuable, and wants it to be continued to be aired nightly until the end of the Indera Kayangan by-election, it must be fair and ensure the observance of the following three conditions:


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman