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by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Monday
): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is not committing “political suicide” but “credibility suicide” for his denial syndrome and insisting during the interview with the US news channel CNN aired on 14.10.2006 that the press in Malaysia is free and the Chinese are better off than the Malays. By stating that the Chinese are better off than the Malays, Abdullah gives the impression that the Chinese are treated better than the Malays.
This is wrong as can be attested by the many discriminatory policies that marginalizes the Chinese community such as the New Economic Policies, quotas and granting of government procurement and scholarships. DAP have received many calls from the Chinese community expressing unhappiness at the false impression given by Abdullah.
No one likes to be discriminated against but what has angered the Chinese community is that the government is not appreciative of their sacrifices and continues to wrongly blame them as a scapegoat for UMNO’s policy failures. For instance when Malays ask why they have not got their rightful share from the NEP, UMNO leaders blame the Chinese community to distract attention from the fact that all the wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few UMNO leaders.
That is why UMNO leaders reacted so strongly to stifle public debate and force ASLI to withdraw Dr Lim Teck Ghee’s report (without Dr Lim’s consent) that the bumi corporate equity based on market value exceeded the NEP’s target of 30%. UMNO leaders were worried that the Malays would no longer believe UMNO’s use of Chinese as the bogeyman and demand that UMNO cough out and share their wealth with them.
Such denial syndrome is also extended to the false impression that there is press freedom and freedom of information. If there are any restrictions, Abdullah blames it again on self-censorship. Abdullah fails to say that there is self-censorship precisely due to restrictive laws in the Printing Presses & Publications Act that not only punishes those who print news unfavourable to the government but also requires the annual renewal of a printing license for all newspapers and publications.
Self-censorship exists because the owners and editors of newspapers need to get their annual permits and dare not risk offending the government. There is hardly any news given to opposition leaders in the mainstream English and Malay press. Even in human interest stories published in non-Chinese vernacular papers handled by DAP leaders, DAP leaders are not always accredited and even our pictures are doctored and cropped out. Such dishonest actions are no different from committing “intellectual property theft”.
This has resulted in self-censorship in Malaysia been refined to such a fine art that the censors could not do a better job. By continuing to insist that there is press freedom in Malaysia when there is none, Abdullah is committing “credibility suicide” that is contrary to his claims that he only wants to hear the truth.
* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP