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Has Abdullah become the new patron saint for “the truth that is not the truth”?

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): The Information Minister, Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin was among the Umno Ministers joining Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at the Prime Minister’s Hari Raya Open House at the Putra World Trade Centre yesterday.


When I shook hands with him, wishing him “Selamat Hari Raya”, I remarked that he has become the spokesman for “the truth that is not the truth”.


Zam knew I was referring to Friday’s Malaysiakini report “Zam to media: No need to tell PM the truth”:


Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin has told editors not to play up negative news because Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's pledge to "hear the truth" does not apply to the media.


Zainuddin said this during a one-hour meeting on Wednesday at the RTM headquarters in Kuala Lumpur with the country’s top editors.

The country's information czar is one of two top government officials to hold meetings with the media top brass this week.

Yesterday, chief secretary to the government Mohd Sidek Hassan in another meeting urged media organizations to avoid emphasizing on news deemed negative against the government, such as the 2006 Auditor-General’s report.

According to sources, Zainuddin began the meeting by declaring that he would frequently meet editors to advise them about national issues.

However, he stressed that he would only "advise and not give warnings".


The information minister claimed that he assumed the new role under the instructions of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Zainuddin then explained that Abdullah's often repeated pledges of "listening to the truth" were only restricted to government officials and Barisan Nasional leaders so as to assist the cabinet in making decisions.

Based on the account by a well-placed source, Zainuddin said Abdullah's pledge did not mean that the media have the green light to practice unrestrained reporting because certain topics were considered highly sensitive.

Zainuddin added that the cabinet often scrutinizes media reports and have noticed that at times, Abdullah’s statements have been misconstrued. However, the minister did not elaborate on this. 

The information minister also ticked off two television stations, warning them to stay away from reporting with a racial slant as this could trigger another ‘May 13' riots.


Zainuddin did not deny the veracity of the Malaysiakini report. Zainuddin is inconsequential. What is important is whether Zainuddin was speaking the truth when he claimed that he was instructed by the Prime Minister to inform the media, four years after he had first declared that he wanted to “hear the truth”, Abdullah had not meant the media or the general public but was only referring to Barisan Nasional leaders and government officials.


Has Abdullah become the new patron saint for “the truth that is not the truth”? The Malaysian press and public deserve a direct answer from Abdullah and not through any mouthpiece.


If there is no denial or clarification from Abdullah in the next 24 hours, then we can only assume that Zainuddin was indeed speaking the truth when he spinned to media editors about “the truth that is not the truth”.


In such a case, Malaysians concerned about the latest “tightening of the screw” on the media as well as another reneging of Abdullah’s pledges of reform and greater government openness, accountability and trustworthiness must speak up loud and clear against another national retrogression on the occasion of the nation’s 50th Merdeka anniversary as well as fourth anniversary of Abdullah’s premiership at the end of the month.



* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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