Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad Should Sue Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim To Prove Not Only That He Does Not Own 70% Of TV3 But That Government Parties Do Not Control Newspapers And Suppress Freedom Of The Press.

Press Statement
by Lim Guan Eng

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad should sue his former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to prove not only that he does not own 70% of TV3 but that government parties do not control newspapers and suppress freedom of the press. Tun Mahathir had denied in the Berita Harian today, Datuk Seri Anwar’s assertions as a lie and a big sin for Anwar to make false accusations.

Datuk Seri Anwar had asserted in the recent BBC interview programme, “Hard Talk”, that Tun Dr Mahathir owned 70% of TV3, whereas the remainder 30% were held by four individuals. Being the former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar would have the inside track of confidential and privileged information and knew who owns what, especially in the sensitive media companies.

That there is no freedom of the press is not news. Instead there is suppression of freedom of the press as proven by the Worldwide Press Freedom Index of Reporters sans Frontier (RSF) or the Global Press Freedom Ranking of Freedom House. In October last year, RSF released its Third Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index, ranking Malaysia 122th out of 167 countries, a fall of 18 places from 104th ranking the previous year and five places behind Indonesia (ranked No. 117) when in 2003, Malaysia was positioned six places ahead as having greater press freedom than Indonesia.

Last Wednesday, the New York City-based think-tank Freedom House put Malaysia at No. 152 out of 194 countries, lower than Taiwan (No. 44) , South Korea (No. 66), Philippines (No. 77), Thailand (No. 95), Sri Lanka (No. 116), Indonesia (No. 119), Pakistan (No. 126), Cambodia (No. 128), Singapore (No. 139),   Afghanistan and Bangladesh (No. 145) as shown in the comparative table as follows:

Freedom House  Global Press Freedom Rating


                                   Malaysia             Indonesia     Cambodia     Singapore

1997                            61                                77                    65             66

1998                            61                                77                    65             66

1999                            66                                53                    62             66

2000                            70                                49                    61             66

2001                            70                                47                    61             68

2002                            71                                53                    68             68

2003                            71                                56                    64             66

2004                            69                                55                    63             64

2005                            69                                58                    62             66


Status: Free (0-30)/Partly Free (31-60)/Not Free (61-100)

Indonesia’s rating in the Freedom House Global Press Freedom Ranking had improved considerably from 77 points in 1997 to 58 in 2005, moving from the “not free” category (61 – 100 points) to the “partly free” category (31 – 60 points)in the past seven years since 1999.  Malaysia had remained in the “not free” category in the past decade, although with a better rating than Indonesia in 1997, with  61 points.

However over the past seven years, Malaysia has lost out with 69 points now compared to Indonesia 58 points. In fact Malaysia can be proud of the dubious honour that press freedom here is even worse than Singapore, considered the unfriendliest media in the region. All this is due to the perception and fact that Malaysia does not enjoy press freedom because of draconian laws such as the Printing Presses and Publications Act and that the newspapers are owned by ruling parties.

What Anwar said during the BBC interview that there is no freedom of the press in Malaysia is a fact. What is new and news is Anwar’s revelation that Tun Mahathir owns 70% of TV3. It is up to Tun Mahathir to prove either by documents or through court action who is telling the truth.


*  Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General