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For Datuk Zainuddin Maidin to praise Lee Kuan Yew for daring to fight against the Western media, does Zam agrees with Lee’s views that Singapore was built on rule of law unlike the surrounding region where “money politics” is a way of life?


Press Statement

by Lim Guan Eng



(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): For Singapore Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew to be praised by an extremist such as Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin (Zam) is a rare historic event that should improve strained relations between Singapore and Malaysia. Zam never had any kind words to say about Lee and for Zam to praise Lee just because Zam is trying to avoid responsibility for Malaysia’s disastrous performance in the press freedom ratings is a pathetic attempt to resort to any desperate methods to save himself. 

Zam is seen as responsible for Malaysia’s worst performance ever in press freedom dropping by 32 spots to 124th ranking out of 169 countries in 2007 Press Freedom Index  released by Paris-based watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Malaysia’s worst historic performance has affected the “want to hear the truth” image of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, from 110th in 2002, 104th in 2003 when Badawi took over as Prime Minister from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, 122nd in 2004, 113th in 2005 and 92nd last year. 

If Zam wants Malaysians to ignore the press freedom ratings made by RSF, as the body is not a judge on local values and the ratings were based on Western values driven by the market and money, why did he not made similar protests when Malaysia was ranked at 92nd last year. Zam shows his hypocrisy by making criticisms when Malaysia performed poorly but not when it is doing well.  

Zam should realize that the annual index reflects the degree of freedom that journalists and news organisations enjoy in each country, efforts made by the state to respect and ensure respect for this freedom. The index this year was compiled with information from 15 freedom of expression organisations that are RSF partners worldwide; and its network of 130 correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. Iceland held top place, while Eritrea came in last.  

Zainuddin said in a statement that he lauded Singapore’s former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew for fighting the Western values of press freedom and winning a defamation suit against London’s Financial Times (FT) newspaper recently.On Wednesday, FT apologised to Lee and other members of his family and agreed to pay damages for false allegations contained in an article which appeared in the FT's Sept 29 issue.  

Zam said by winning the case, Lee had proven to the world that the Western media valued money more than press freedom. If we carried such twisted thinking by Zam to its logical conclusion, why is it that no Malaysian Minister dared to sue the Western media such as the Financial Times. The Financial Times had in the past also run a series of damaging articles about corruption in Malaysia and yet no Minister dared to sue. 

If Zam praises Lee Kuan Yew so highly would he agree with Lee’s speech to the International Bar Association annual meeting on 14.10.2007 in reference to the apology by the Financial Times where Lee said: “Singapore was built on the rule of law and did not tolerate corruption, in contrast to the surrounding region where ‘money politics’ was a way of life. This means defamation action may be taken against those who impute dishonesty to government officials, in order to clear any doubts”.  

For Zam to praise Lee’s actions against the Western media, he must have the courage to follow Lee’s example of suing the Western media and also accept Lee’s castigation that outside of Singapore, money politics is a way of life. Would Zam sue Lee for telling the truth for Malaysia is definitely one of those countries in Lee’s mind?



* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP

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