(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): This is an Open Letter of Protest to all local mass media, both electronic and printed, at the lack of fair play in my response to Mahathirís allegations on nepotism.
When Mahathir accused me of nepotism, he was given the fullest media publicity over radio, television and the local printed media. But when I rebutted and responded to Mahathirís accusation at a media conference yesterday, I was not given equal and fair treatment by the local printed and electronic media.
I had challenged the Prime Minister to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry on Nepotism with special focus on the children and associates of Mahathir as well as the Lim Kit Siang/Lim Guan Eng alleged nepotism case.
I had also referred to a memorandum submitted by 15 NGOs including Aliran, AWAM, FOMCA, ERA, SUARAM and Tenaganita to the Anti-Corruption Agency in August last year asking for swift investigations concerning various noted personalities, including the children of the Prime Minister and an accompanying document containing lists of private limited companies where three children of the Prime Minister - Mirzan, Mokhzani and Mukhriz Mahathir - acted as directors, and that according to searches made at the Registry of Companies at the end of 1994, Mirzan had interests in 98 companies, Mokhzani in 48 companies and Mukhriz in 67 companies.
My rebuttal and response to Mahathir on the allegation of nepotism was completedly blacked out by the electronic media, whether radio or television. Not a single newspaper, in whichever language, dared to mention the names of the three children of Mahathir and the 213 companies they had interest as at the end of 1994, or my statement that I would not be surprised if Mirzan, Mokhzani and Mukhriz had in the last four years doubled if not trebled the companies where they have interests.
Can the Malaysian printed and electronic media explain why when Mahathir accused me of nepotism in connection with Lim Guan Eng, this was given prominent coverage, but when I raised the question as to whether there is nepotism involving Mahathir and his three children, Mirzan, Mokhzani and Mukhriz concerning the hundreds of companies in which they have interests, this was completely censored by the local mass media?
Do we have in Malaysia not only selective prosecution, but also selective coverage of allegations of nepotism, where the mass media practises double-standards where they would only print the Prime Ministerís allegation of nepotism against the Parliamentary Opposition Leader but not vice versa?
I had said yesterday that the treatment of the local mass media of my rebuttal and response to Mahathirís allegation of nepotism is a test of press freedom and mass media fair-play in Malaysia, and clearly the local mass media have failed both tests.
I do not blame the journalists for the most unfair treatment of my response to Mahathir on his allegation of nepotism, as I believe they would have all gone back to their newspaper offices and sent in fair and balanced reports, but the mass media bosses did not allow them to see the light of day.
This is because the local mass media are required to serve the Barisan Nasional agenda, where the DAP and the Opposition are presented in the worst possible light, as in the recent DAP problems, so as to distract public attention from the many grave serious national problems and multiple crises as well as the very serious problems faced by the Barisan Nasional component parties, especially UMNO.
Whenever certain local mass media give the DAP very prominent coverage, including front-page headlines several days in a row, when normally their readers could hardly read about the views and demands of the DAP, discerning Malaysians must know that the Barisan Nasional agenda is at work!
I ask the local mass media, both electronic and printed, to redeem their credibility by publishing my further response today to Mahathirís allegations on nepotism against me. This is a further test of press freedom and mass media fair play in Malaysia.
If Mahathir and his three children, Mirzan, Mokhzani and Mukhriz maintain that there is no nepotism whatsoever, then they should have no qualms in making public all the hundreds of companies the three Mahathir children have interests, the nature of their interests and stakes in these companies, and subject themselves to public accountability and scrutiny.
Furthermore, let Mahathir agree to the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry on Nepotism. I am prepared to appear before the Royal Comission of Inquiry on Nepotism and am prepared to give full co-operation into its investigations into the alleged Lim Kit Siang/Lim Guan Eng nepotism.
But Mahathir should similarly give full co-operation to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Nepotism, particularly as to whether there is any nepotism in the government, through Petronas, using hundreds of millions of ringgit of public funds to bail out Mirzan Mahathirís Konsortium Perkapalan Bhd. The MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik, should also give full co-operation to the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Nepotism as to whether there is nepotism in the case of his son, Ling Hee Leong, being able to acquire RM1.2 billion of corporate stakes in three months.
Let Mahathir tell the country and the world that he has nothing to hide as far allegations of nepotism is concerned by announcing the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry on Nepotism in the presidential address at the UMNO General Assembly this week, and that he and his three children, Mirzan, Mokhzani and Mukhriz, would fully co-operate with such a public inquiry.