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Urgent fax to Abdullah to
remove clampdown on media from playing up corruption and abuses of funds in
school repair allocations like SRJK Kung Yu and latest SRJK Sin Bin
(Parliament, Monday) : I have sent an urgent fax to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi urging him to immediately remove clampdown on media from playing up corruption and abuses of funds in school repair allocations like Kung Yu and the latest, Sin Bin as it raises two fundamental questions about government’s commitment to integrity and media freedom
I referred to Malaysiakini (Chinese) report today that the Chinese press had been directed to “play down” reports of leakages and abuses of primary school repairs allocations, after the nation-wide furore over the scandal of the RM30,000 allocation for SJKC Kung Yu (Johore) where only RM3,000 worth of work had been done.
As a result, reports in yesterday’s evening editions of Sin Chew, Oriental Daily, Nanyang, China Press and Guang Ming of another case of school repairs allocation “leakage” and abuses, i.e. involving work worth RM5,000 for an allocation for RM40,000 for SJKC Sin Bin, Sungai Lima, Pulau Ketam, had been pulled out of all the morning editions today. However, these reports are still available on their online editions.
I told the Prime Minister that he is sending out a very wrong message, as an administration committed to an all-out war against corruption and abuses of public funds regardless of the form of leakages of development expenditures should have welcomed extensive media reporting on the issue, instead of imposing a clampdown.
The latest media development raised two grave fundamental questions:
Firstly, whether Abdullah is backing down from his reform pledge of not compromising in the battle against corruption and abuses of public funds, when there is very little to show after three years of his premiership with many, both inside and outside the country, feeling that the problem of national integrity has got worse rather than being under better control.
Secondly, Abdullah’s commitment to “hear the truth” from the public, with a free, fair and independent media. If the Abdullah administration should frown upon exposes involving RM30,000 or RM40,000, who expects that it will support exposes involving huge expenditures running to tens, hundreds of millions or even billions of ringgit of public funds?
In my fax, I urged Abdullah to immediately remove the restraints and clamps on free media reporting on abuses of public funds to help the government to uphold integrity and fight corruption and all forms of malpractices, and to make a clear declaration that his administration continues to want to “hear the truth” from the public, however unpleasant, and that he himself remains fully committed to a free, independent and responsible media.