Media statement by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP CEC member and NGO Bureau Chief on Saturday, October 21, 2006 in Petaling Jaya
Former MCA boss Ling Liong Sik maintains that “it was a good buy” despite of the big losses incurred in the Nanyang Press deal and the fact that MCA was forced to sell its controlling stakes to Ezywood, a company controlled directly by the Sinchew boss, Tiong Hiew King. Tiong now holds 44.76% and MCA still holds about 23.38% in the Nanyang press in order to keep Nanyang Siang Pao and China Press as party mouthpieces.
His former deputy Lim Ah Lek has estimated the losses at about RM100 million. He even lamented that the amount is more than enough to buy another Wisma MCA (which was estimated at below the RM100 million mark by a local property expert friend of mine). He said Liong Sik was “solely responsible” for the debacle and he had wanted Liong Sik to apologise to MCA and the Chinese community which has opposed the deal vehemently 5 years ago.
Ah Lek also revealed for the first time that in November 1989, Liong Sik was trying to sell The Star (39%) to KT Lim of Malaysian Plantation Berhad for no reasons. Ling was saying how successful and important The Star to MCA in his recent interview. If that is true, why Liong Sik has wanted to sell The Star at that time?
It was indeed very strange for Liong Sik to buy the Nanyang Press despite of the strong protest from the customers (readers and advertisers) and members. We want Liong Sik to tell us whether commissions were paid out to someone in the fishy Nanyang deal. And by the way, who is Andrew Leong, Mr Ling? Or may be the present MCA boss Ong Ka Ting could shed some light on the mystery.
Anyway, besides saying that the Nanyang deal was a majority decision although it was only a narrow 157-vote majority, Liong Sik has indirectly put the blame on his former boss Dr Mahathir Mohamad when he said in a recent interview that “of course we need permission from the PM since it’s a major media institution. If we have the PM’s backing, it would be very helpful. I think without the PM’s okay… and knowing the sensitivity of the media, I don’t think it would have been possible to buy.” May be Dr Mahathir could still remember what was transpired then and he may want to tell us the truth.
On 9th October 2006, some 45 multi-lingual and multiethnic civil society organizations working on diverse issues and political party have strongly objected to the MCA’s sale of 21.02% shares in Nanyang Press to Ezywood.Their joint statement stated that “that all top four Chinese dailies are now concentrated in the hand of a party-business alliance is detrimental to press freedom and democratic space in
Malaysia. Such development calls for reforms in media laws including the repeal of Printing Presses and Publications Act and the introduction of anti-monopoly clauses.”
For the same reason, Umno should relinquish all their shares in NST, Berita Harian, Utusan Malaysia, and MCA should relinquish all their shares in The Star. MIC and PBB should also sell all their shares in the Tamil and English papers in their staples.
These were some of the main points in their joint- statement…
“Since the takeover, Nanyang Siang Pao suffered a progressive decline in readership and advertising revenue, resulting in a loss of RM 6,309,000 for the Nanyang Press group in the last financial year. This proves that the takeover was not only politically unpopular, but also economically not feasible.” “The latest sales are adding insult to injury, posing an ever greater harm to press freedom and to the interest of journalists and readers. It will not only help increase news control by the Internal Security Ministry, but may also allow the controlling business interest to sideline certain social issues, and even to subdue civil society organizations.”
“We therefore make these demands:
1. That a Parliamentary Select Committee be set up to review all media-related laws to introduce important reforms, among others, the repeal of the Printing Presses and Publications Act, and, introducing in relevant legislations the “dominant position” and “substantial lessening of competition”(SLC) clauses as in the Communications and Multimedia Act.
2. That both the MCA and Tiong relinquish all their shares in the Nanyang Press to non-partisan interests, in a transparent manner that will increase diversity of ownership in the Malaysian media. 3. That the society lends support to the Nanyang Press journalists who are now more vulnerable than ever to the threats of lay-off and political interference.”Endorsing Groups:
1. Writers Alliance for Media
2. Civil Rights Committee,
Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (CRC-KLSCAH)
3. Youth Section,
Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
4. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
5. Jemaah Islah Malaysia (JIM)
6. National Human Rights Society (HAKAM)
7. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
8. Charter 2000-Aliran
9. Parti Keadilan Rakyat(PKR)
10. Parti Sosialis Malaysia(PSM)
11. DAP Socialist Youth (DAPSY)
14. The Free Media
15. Indigenous and Peasant Movement Sarawak (Panggau Sarawak)
16. Community Development Centre
18. Research for Social Advancement (REFSA)
19. Tenaganita (Women’s Force)
20. Labour Resource Centre
21. Women’s Development Collective (WDC)
22. Pusat Janadaya Berhad (EMPOWER)
23. Center for Orang Asli Concerns(COAC)
24. Save OurSelves (SOS)
25. Malaysian Voters Union (MALVU)
26. Monitoring Sustainable Globalization (MSN)
27. Group of Concern Citizen
28. Persekutuan Persatuan-Persatuan Lembaga Pengurus Sekolah Cina
Malaysia (Dong Zong)
29. Jawatankuasa Mempertahankan Sekolah Asal Damansara & Memohon Sekolah Kedua (SOS Damansara)
30. Persatuan Ibubapa SJK(C) Malaysia
31.Persatuan Siswazah-siswazah Taiwan Cheng Kung University
32. Persatuan Alumnin Persatuan Bahasa Tionghua USM (LIHUA) Selangor and KL
33. Persatuan Peniaga Barang Logam Melaka
34. Youth Section, Malacca Chinese Assembly Hall
35. Bahagian Pemuda Persatuan Kwang Tung Rawang
36. Bahagian Pemuda Persatuan Wui Leng Selangor & KL
37. Youth Section ,Selangor Hokkien Association
38.Malaysia Youth and Students Democratic Movement (DEMA)
39. Inter-Varsity Council
40. Youth for Change (Y4C)
41. New Era College Students Union
42. University Malaya Association of New Youth (UMANY)
43. University Malaya Chinese Language Society
44. Persatuan Bahasa Tiong Hua USM
45. Student Progressive Front USM
This signature campaign is initiated by Writers Alliance Media Independence (WAMI), Civil Rights Committee and Youth Section of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) and Centre for Independent Journalism.
Groups and individuals who were interested in the campaign can contact
Ser Choon Ing, Chairperson, Civil Rights Committee, KLSCAH
Mr Wong Chin Huat, Chairperson, Writers Alliance Media Independence (WAMI)
Mr Tan Soon Lim, President, Youth Section, KLSCAH
Ms Sonia Randhawa, Executive Director, Centre for Independent Journalism
Contacts: KLSCAH Secretariat 603-22746645