Guan Eng justifies ban on Umno-linked newspapers
UPDATED @ 03:46:00 PM 22-06-2012
KUALA LUMPUR, June 22 — Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng appeared to justify today his administration’s decision to ban Umno-controlled newspapers instead of suing them for defamation, saying they continue to publish false reports without giving him the right of reply.
Lim (picture) was speaking to reporters in George Town just after the High Court there found Utusan Malaysia guilty of defaming him for the second time in six months, a decision he called “a victory for press freedom”.
“We welcome all newspapers including those controlled by Barisan Nasional (BN) on condition they report truthfully and give me the right of reply. But the New Straits Times and Utusan refuse me the right of reply.
“There might be upcoming suits but there are false reports by Utusan every day. I cannot sue them every day, only major cases,” the DAP secretary-general said.
A copy of the audio recording was made available to The Malaysian Insider.
Lim has previously defended Penang’s decision to ban Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia, accusing it of being a party organ rather than a newspaper.
This came after reporters protested against the ban on May 3, which is World Press Freedom Day, and the Centre for Independent Journalism said a Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government could not guarantee media freedom.
But the Bagan MP said he could not sue the Malay daily “every day” for its “false reports”, so he was left with no option but to bar its reporters from covering any proceedings in Penang in an act of “self-defence.”
The Penang legislative assembly adopted a motion in May 2011 barring the newspaper following unverified reports on the renovation costs of Lim’s rented residence, and an alleged plot by the DAP and the church to turn Malaysia into a Christian state.
The Penang High Court today found Utusan Malaysia guilty of defaming Lim and ordered the Umno daily to pay him RM200,000 in damages and RM20,000 in costs.
The Penang CM had claimed a March 12, 2008 article headlined “Tiada Lagi DEB (No More NEP)” in the Malay-language newspaper which said he would abolish the New Economic Policy was inaccurate.
He added he had merely said his administration would be free from the “cronyism, corruption and systematic inefficiency” stemming from the policy.
The ruling follows the December 2011 judgment by the Penang High Court that an Utusan article titled “Kebiadapan Guan Eng” had “maliciously defamed Lim, and made him and the DAP look as if they are anti-Malay and anti-Islam.”