By Debra Chong | TMI
KUALA LUMPUR, May 9 — Malaysian Bar president Lim Chee Wee accused Putrajaya today of giving free rein to Utusan Malaysia to publish and promote what he called lies dressed up as news reports and continuing to stir up religious fear and unrest.
The lawyer joined a growing choir in urging the authorities to get their priorities in order and immediately investigate reporters and editors in the Umno-owned daily for repeatedly pushing provocative religious rhetoric rather than hauling up Christian leaders over unproven claims.
The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM), which represents over 90 per cent of churches nationwide, have also demanded Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak act immediately against Utusan for false reporting and spreading dangerous lies.
“Instead of questioning Utusan Malaysia’s journalistic conduct and ethics, the immediate responses from the ministers in charge of home affairs and communications were to order investigations into the alleged incidents themselves,” Lim said in a statement.
“In this way, the authorities are gullibly assisting those who seek to play up lies and falsehoods in order to artificially create religious conflict,” he added.
Because of that, Lim said, the authorities have shown themselves to be biased in favour of irresponsible parties and allowed them to get away with “wantonly [instilling] fear and religious disharmony in the country”.
He slammed the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government and its agencies for making a mockery of the basic principle of justice — innocent until proven guilty — which he said “is clearly a dangerous erosion of the fundamental liberties enshrined in our Federal Constitution, and must be stopped”.
Lim said that any independent observer would conclude that “Utusan Malaysia is beyond the reach of the law”.
“The Malaysian Bar is concerned that no action has been taken against Utusan Malaysia although it has persistently published intemperate and wild accusations, written in inflammatory language, which threaten Malaysia’s social fabric,” he said.
“Utusan Malaysia continues to act with impunity, and thus appears to enjoy a status that is above the law,” he added.
The Malay daily carried a front-page article on Saturday claiming the DAP was conspiring with Christian leaders to take over Putrajaya and abolish Islam as the country’s official religion.
The report, based entirely on blog postings by several pro-Umno bloggers, charged the DAP with sedition for allegedly trying to change the country’s laws to allow a Christian prime minister, pointing to a grainy photograph showing what they described as a secret pact between the opposition party and pastors at a hotel in Penang last Wednesday.