The Attorney-General and the Police should not adopt the “conventional police mentality” when dealing with problems of press freedom as they should be mindful of Vision 2020 to promote democratisation in Malaysia


Press Conference Statement (2) by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, at DAP PJ Headquarters on Wednesday, October 4, 1995 at 11.30 a.m.

The Attorney-General and the Police should not adopt the “conventional police mentality” when dealing with problems of press freedom as they should be mindful of Vision 2020 to promote democratisation in Malaysia

The Attorney-General, Datuk Mohtar Abdullah said yesterday that he had not made any decision on the investigation into allegations that PAS Member of Parliament for’ Kubang Kerian Mohamad Sabu had assaulted a TV3 crew.

He said that he did not know how a newspaper could publish a report that his Chambers had found no grounds to charge Mohamed Sabu in connection with the assault, of two TV3 crew members, cameraman Rosli Pamli, 29 and reporter Fadzli Ahmad, 22, during a PAS ceramah in Kedah on April 22 during the recent. general election campaign.

The Attorney-General said that “In view of the seri¬ousness of this matter”, his Chambers have lodged a police report. on Oct. 2, 1995 to facilitate investigation on the “said false press report” and advised the press to be careful in reporting matters under police investigation so that they would not run afoul of the law under the relevant, provisions of the Official Secrets Act 1972 and/or the Penal Code.

This is the second issue which must have upset the breakfast of many Malaysians when they read this morning’s news¬papers (the first being the ban on the TV series Justice Bao) as key institutions in the government seem to be out of touch with the aspirations of the new generation of Malaysians and are not even keeping abreast with the long-term vision of the Government.

The Attorney-General and the Police should not adopt the “conventional police mentality” when dealing with problems of press freedom as they should be mindful of Vision 2020 to promote democratisation in Malaysia.

If the newspaper report that the Attorney-General’s Chambers had found no grounds to charge Mohamed Sabu is incor¬rect, the Attorney-General’s Chambers can issue a correction. Why is there the need to lodge a police report over it and try to make it into a criminal offence?

Is the Attorney-General going to lodge a police report every time there is “false news” – including Cabinet Ministers who make “false news”? If so, then Malaysia may end up without a Cabinet!

There are many laws which are archaic and undemocratic which are clearly inconsonant and incompatible with the fast-changing aspirations of Malaysians on the threshold of the 21st century.

It may be asking too much to expect Datuk Mohtar Abdullah to be a “crusading” Attorney-General to “democratise” Malaysians laws in keeping with Vision 2020 objective of foster¬ing a mature democracy, but he should be enlightened and envi¬sioned enough so as not to invoke archaic or undemocratic laws which had not been used, in the past.

The Attorney-General’s clarification on the issue had already served its purpose, and 1 call on Datuk Mohtar Abdullah to withdraw the police report on the matter.

The problem and reality in Malaysia today is not that the press are too free and independent, but that the press are not free and independent enough. In the circumstances, the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Police should, not be seen to be mounting witch-hunts to muzzle and stifle the little openings here and there towards a more free, independent and responsible press in Malaysia.

In any event, the Attorney-General owes Malaysians an explanation why his Chambers is taking such a long time to decide on the case, which is coming to six-month old.

Police should set a good example and make reasonable ex gratia payment to the victims and families of those killed or wounded by an amok corporal in Perak.

The Perak CPO.Mohd Sedek Mohd Ali said yesterday that the Police would not pay compensation to those killed or injured by an amok police corporal, Cpl Baharom Ahmad in Perak last Thursday.

He said they could sue the Government as any civilian had the right to do so.

This is another police atittude which must change in an era of people-oriented public service.

I call on the Police to set a good example and make reasonable ex gratia payment to the victims and families and families of those killed or wounded by an amok corporal in Perak, for it is completely unacceptable for the Police to claim that it has no liability whatsoever over the dead and injured in the amok corporal incident.

The ex gratia payment that the police is prepared to pay may not meet the demand of the victims or their families, but that is a separate issue.

The ex gratia payment, which should be reasonable and not be merely nominal, can be made on the basis that it would be taken into account should there be any court judgement awarding a higher compensation.