Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has decried what he calls double standards on insults made against the prime minister, compared with the insults hurled against him, the Selangor menteri besar and a former prime minister.
“If insulting BN leaders like the prime minister is an offence, what about making threats of bodily harm against the Penang chief minister or those insulting the Selangor menteri besar and a former prime minister?
“Not only have I been insulted but I have even been threatened. I lodged police reports, but no action has been taken,” Lim said in a statement today.
He also noted how his son, even when he was a minor six years ago, had been “humiliated with evil lies” that he had sexually assaulted his classmate. However, Lim said, the criminal offenders who had made the allegations were not prosecuted.
“The police had even encouraged me to lodge police reports so that criminal charges can be filed as lies were made against a child minor. But no charge was filed until today, without any explanation,” he said.
Lim said he does not agree that the prime minister, Selangor menteri besar and Penang chief minister enjoy full immunity from insults.
“Because this would weaken the democratic process of elections. If these insults are untrue, then defamation suits should be filed to claim compensation.”
The prime minister, however, cannot be placed at the same level as the rulers in that he cannot be insulted, since he can make political capital out of insulting his opponents, stressed Lim.
‘There should be a level playing field’
“There should be a level playing field in the electoral process as the prime minister is just another candidate subjected to the voters, like other candidates,” he said.
As such, Lim believes Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak (photo) should not abuse his powers by investigating news portal The Malaysian Insight (TMI) for allegedly insulting the prime minister.
“Why were no investigations carried out against BN-controlled media, such as New Straits Times, Berita Harian, The Star and Utusan Malaysia, when they lost in defamation suits in courts, paid compensation, apologised and unreservedly withdrew their false reports against me?
“Such double-standards must stop to preserve whatever little credibility left, or else online news media such as Malaysiakini, Free Malaysia Today and The Malaysian Insight would gain a wider readership at the expense of the plunging circulation of BN-controlled media,” Lim said.
Salleh had confirmed that TMI was being investigated after Penang Umno delegate Mohd Nashrol Hisham urged authorities act against the news portal during his speech at the party’s general assembly last Saturday.
Mohd Nashrol had accused TMI of insulting the prime minister but he did not elaborate on the nature of the insult.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) yesterday summoned TMI executives for questioning over an editorial.
According to a TMI report, the MCMC action was over a Dec 1 editorial about the recently concluded Royal Commission of Inquiry into Bank Negara’s foreign exchange (forex) losses in the 1990s.
Meanwhile, Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen (photo) urged MCMC to cease its investigations into TMI.
“We would like to remind MCMC that an independent press is one of the essential pillars of democracy as it shares information, ideas, comments and opinions and holds those in power to account.
“Freedom of expression is a universal human right and a guaranteed fundamental freedom under our Federal Constitution.
“It is not the prerogative of the government to give and take, to allow freedom of speech for the press that only favours the government to take place,” Paulsen said in a statement.
He added that MCMC should focus on being more professional and impartial, as opposed to using its powers to protect the image of the prime minister and his allies.