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Who lied? Zam or Pak Lah? 

Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Tuesday): Who lied? Was it the Information Minister, Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin or the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi himself?


On Friday, 6th October 2007, speaking at the Gerakan National Delegates Conference, Abdullah called on “leaders, especially those in Barisan Nasional” to tell him the truth and to stop “are in a state of denial”.


He exhorted:


“Tell the truth, even if it is painful.”

“The prime minister must have the courage and readiness to listen even to the worst stories, whether it is related to the country or him. Never allow you to sink in a hole of denial and feel that everything is alright.”


Four days later, on Wednesday 10th October 2007, Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin summoned top media editors to a special briefing and in the name of the Prime Minister, laid down the law that


  • Abdullah’s pledge to “hear the truth” does not apply to the media as it was restricted to Barisan Nasional leaders and government officials; and


  • The Prime Minister’s repeated pledges to “listen to the truth” did not mean that the media have the green light to “practice unrestrained reporting”.


It is a reflection of the deplorable state of press freedom in Malaysia that no mainstream media had protested or written about Zainuddin’s violation of a free press, especially under a Prime Minister who had pledged greater openness, accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance!


In fact, Zainuddin’s summoning of the top media editors to direct them what to print and what not to print would be completely unthinkable in the past 50 years of the nation’s development, as no Information Minister would have such temerity to regard himself as the Comptroller-General of the Press.


One of two things would have happened if any former Information Minister had done what Zainuddin did last Wednesday:


  • A public exposure or protest appearing in one or more of the mainstream press; and/or


  • Demand for confirmation that Zainuddin was really speaking in the name of the Prime Minister and the further demand by the top media editors for a meeting with the Prime Minister himself.


But neither one of these two things happened – and if not for Malaysiakini’s expose in last Friday’s report, the Malaysian public would have continued to be kept in the dark about the spreading tentacles to stifle press freedom in the Abdullah administration.


Almost four years ago, when he first became Prime Minister, Abdullah had made his first call to be told the truth.


Speaking at the opening of the MIC branch chairmen convention on November 9, 2003, Abdullah told Barisan Nasional component party leaders and members to give him correct information to enable the government to respond appropriately to the people’s needs.


He said:

“Tell me the truth.”


“Sometimes people do not provide truthful information for fear that I will cry, worry or lose sleep over it. But as a leader, I have to know the truth.”


“If we (leaders) are not prepared to hear the truth, then we should not become leaders.”

Had Abdullah been telling a lie in the past four years or was it Zainuddin who had lied.


Malaysians are entitled to an immediate answer from the Prime Minister.



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

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