Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Tanjong 3 Conference in Penang on Sunday, 6th March 1994 at 10 a.m.
London Sunday Times should make a forthright and fulsome apology to Mahathir
Yesterday, I said that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed has a stronger case to take legal action against the London Sunday Times for its February 20 report, following the clarification by its editor, Andrew Neil that his newspaper at no stage had claimed that Mahathir had sought a bribe or was paid one.
Mahathir is right in rejecting the Sunday Times clarification, for although the Sunday Times did not say Mahathir is corrupt, the implication is very clear.
London Sunday Times should have come out with a forthright and fulsome apology to Mahathir for its February 20 report instead of the inadequate clarification by its editor.
We maintain nonetheless that the correct, proper and measured response in this case is not to impose a ban on British companies for all government contracts, but to vindicate the name, reputation and integrity of the Prime Minister through legal action against the Sunday Times.
Otherwise, is Malaysia to impose trade sanctions against the United States or Japan if American or Japanese mass media should one day carry reports which are regarded as tarnish¬ing the honour and integrity of the Malaysian Government and its leaders?
Malaysians must not regard everything in the British mass media as true, but they must also not dismiss everything in the British media as untrue.
In fact, Malaysians should maintain such a critical attitude not only to British and foreign media reports, but also to all Malaysian media reports as well.
During the current controversy over the British mass media reports, Malaysian Ministers accused the British mass media of abusing their press freedom while boasting that it is the Malaysian press which are truly free and responsible.
The British press have their evils which should be deplored, but let us not go to the other extreme to pretend that there is press freedom in Malaysia – when everday particularly over TV and Radio, Malaysians are reminded of a Malaysian press which is alien to the concepts of press freedom. Those who only follow the radio and television news would think, for instance, that there are no opposition parties in Malaysia or no opposition MPs.
Malaysians must be a critical and discerning people if they are to take their rightful place in the international arena. While rejecting reports which are baseless and irresponsible, they must take heed of those who call for attention and even action.
Malaysian Government must give satisfactory answer to Malaysians on the various questions raised in the British media, in the past few months concerning accountability, propriety and integrity of the Malaysian Government
Should Malaysians reject everything that had been reported in the British mass media in the past three months which touch on Malaysia?
The Malaysian Government and its leaders have admitted that the main target of the British mass media in their exposes in the past few months was not the Malaysian Government, but the British Conservative Government.
In the course of these British mass media exposes, Malaysia came into the picture because of various issues, projects and business deals involving Malaysia which raised questions in the United Kingdom about the accountability, credibility, abuses of power and misrule of the British Conservative Government in the past decade.
It is no concern of Malaysians whether the British government had been dishonest with the British Parliament or British people or whether it had illegally misused its Overseas Aid Programme to “promote sustainable economic and social development and good government to reduce poverty, suffering, deprivation and to improve the quality of life for poor people”.
However, the Malaysian Government owes Malaysians a duty to give satisfactory answer to various questions raised in the British mass media as well in the hearings of the various House of Commons Select- Committees in the past few months concerning accountability, propriety and integrity of the Malaysian Government.
Some of these issues which the Malaysian Government must account to the Malaysian people include:
Why the Pergau hydro-electric dam contract was awarded to Balfour Beatty/Cementation. International without open tender;
Why Balfour Beatty was allowed to raise the cost of the Pergau project by some 81 million pounds sterling days after the agreement was signed by the Prime Ministers of Malaysia and Britain in 1988; and
Allegations of RM300 million ‘kickback’ to UMNO from the Memorandum of Understanding on the RM5 billion purchase of British defence hardware and improprieties in the separate defence deals.
The All-Party Parliamentary Committee on Parliamentary Honour and National Integrity which will meet in Parliament on Monday at 11 a.m. will want to have answers to these questions.
Call on Mahathir to co-operate with the All-Party Parliamentary Committee on Parliamentary Honour and National Integrity
I call on the Prime Minister to co-operate with the All-Party Parliamentary Committee on Parliamentary Honour and National Integrity by furnishing to it all relevant documents, including the Memorandum of Understanding signed by him and the former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher in 1988 on the RM5 billion Malaysian purchase of British defence hardware.
I also hope that the Prime Minister will allow the Barisan Nasional component parties to participate in the All-Party Parliamentary Committee on Parliamentary Honour and Nation¬al Integrity by sending their representatives to Monday’s meeting.
The DAP’s representatives on the All-Party Parliamentary Committee are Sdr. Karpal Singh (Jelutong), Sdr. Dr. Tan Seng Giaw (Kepong), Sdr. Ahmad Nor (Bayan Baru), Sdr. Lim Guan Eng Kota Melaka) and Sdr. Dr. Kua Kia Soong (Petaling Jaya).