Press Conference Statement by Parliament Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General, MP for Tanjung and Assemblyman for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, at DAP PJ Headquarters on Saturday, Sept.27, 1986 at 11 a.m.
Home Ministry’s three-month suspension of Asian Wall Street Journal and expulsion of its two correspondents high-handed, undemocratic and not calculated to make Dr. Mahathir’s investment mission to United States a success.
The Home Ministry’s three-month suspension of Asian Wall Street Journal and the explusion of its two correspondents, John Berthelsen and Raphael Pura, are high-handed, undemocratic and not calculated to make the investment mission of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to the United States a success.
The Home Ministry has failed to give any reason to justify the three-month suspension of the Asian Wall Street Journal and the revocation of the work permits of the its two correspondents, who have been told to leave the country within 48 hours.
I assume that the immediate causes of the Home Ministry action are the Asian Wall Street Journal of Monday, 22nd Sept; Thursday, Sept.25 and Friday Sept, as all these three issues had not been released for circulation in Malaysia by the Home Ministry.
I understand that the Monday’s Asian Wall Street Journal carried a report on the 1981 London mysterious tin-buying episode, following Dr. Mahathir’s admission of the Malaysian Government’s role during the recent UMNO General Assembly; Thursday’s edition carried an article on the Co-operative Central Bank; while Friday’s edition carried a report on the Daim Zainuddin’s family companies’ connections with UMBC shares.
It is no secret that the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and other UMNO leaders have been accusing the Asian Wall Street Journal of being involved in a international Zionist conspiracy against Malaysian leaders, and they are particularly incensed by the Asian Wall Street Journal article on 30th April 1986 which for the first time, publicly disclosed Daim Zainuddin and his family companies’ various transactions to increase their 41 per cent stake in UMBC in 1984 to 51 per cent in 1985, and raising various political, legal and ethical questions.
The Prime Minister reacted in anger at the Asian Wall Street Journal article, accusing the report as ‘lies’, and that there was a ‘deliberate attempt to blacken the name of Malaysia.’ The Finance Minister, Daim Zainuddin, himself termed the Asian Wall Street Journal article as “trash”, but said that he would not sue the Journal.
Speaking from the point of view as a Malaysian, there is no doubt that the Asian Wall Street Journal article of April 30,1986 did Malaysians and the nation a great service by bringing into public attention various important political, legal and ethical questions about the UMBC transactions of Dain Zainuddin and his family companies.
Up to now, these questions have not been fully and satisfactorily answered.
The Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and all Barisan Nasional Government leaders should realize that none of them is immune from public criticism for their public or private actions if they have a bearing on public interest in.
I am prepared to support the Government’s three-month suspension of Asian Wall Street Journal and the expulsion of the two Asian Wall Street journal correspondents if Dr. Mahathir and Daim Zainuddin can convince me and Malaysians that the Asian Wall Street Journal is part of a international Zionist conspiracy to destroy Malaysia,and that the Journal had been carrying scurrilous lies and falsehoods in their reports on Malaysia.
But up till now, neither Dr. Mahathir nor Daim Zainuddin had been able to challenge the veracity of the April 30 article of Asian Wall Street Journal, which is why Daim Zainuddin said that he would not sue the Journal.
Similarity, can Dr. Mahathir and Daim Zainuddin prove that the Asia in the latest three articles on reports on Malaysia, on the London mysterious tin-buying which appeared on Monday, on Co-operative Central Bank on Thursday and on the latest UMBC share tra stake of Daim Zainuddin companies yesterday, are full of lies and falsehoods?
Otherwise, Malaysians and the whole world can only conclude that the Asian Wall Street Journal is being punished not because of any international Zionist conspiracy, or publication of lies and falsehoods on Malaysia, but because they are reporting the truth!
It is truth that really hurts. If the Asian Wall Street Journal publishes lies, then it would be easy for the Ministry of Home Affairs to enumerate these lies and convince Malaysians and world opinion of the propriety of its harsh action.
The Ministry of Home affairs action against the Asian Wall Street Journal is a shame for Malaysia, for the Government has not been able to convince Malaysians that they are protecting the good name of Malaysia, but merely protect these persons in government or corporate circles from public examination of their public and private actions.
Unless the government can prove that the Asian Wall street Journal has been guilty of irresponsible journalism, the Government should lift the three-month suspension on the Journal and rescind the expulsion order.
Dr. Mahathir and government leaders have been expressing their concern about the need to create conditions to attract foreign investments, and he has gone to the United States to meet American businessmen to announce radical changes in government laws to attract investors. But actions like the high-handed, undemocratic and arbitrary three month suspension of Asian Wall Street Journal and the expulsion order of the two correspondents cannot help Dr. Mahathir to create the ‘suitable conditions’. If fact, Dr. Mahathir might as well cancel has undone all the good the Prime Minister might do in his meeting with American Businessmen.
The Ministry actions against the Asian Wall Street Journal are not a matter concerning the Ministry and journal only, but concern all Malaysians. Malaysians must be convicted that the Home Ministry has just because for its action, and for this reason, I suggest that the Government establish a public inquiry into the articles of Asian Wall Street Journal to determine whether they deserve the harsh action meted out to them. Finally, it is not Asian Wall street Journal that will suffer, but Malaysia which will suffer even more as we will be seen by the world as a country which only preaches press freedom and democracy, but where there are a lot of dubious transactions in government and corporate life which could not bear public scrutiny.