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AWSJ STS: MCA Paper Takeover Backlash
By Cris Prystay
30/5/2001 4:08 pm Wed
[Mahathir amat memerlukan akhbar Cina untuk memutar minda
kaum Cina untuk menjamin keselamatannya dalam pilihanraya yang
akan datang. Sebelum ini kahbar seperti Nanyang begitu lantang
mengkritik kerajaan sehingga memalukan MCA dan BN.
"Mahathir amat bimbang dengan akhbar Cina. Beliau telah kehilangan
sokongan orang melayu dan kini amat bimbang pula sokongan masyarakat
bukan melayu," - kata Terence Gomez.
Jika langkah ini diteruskan akan berkuburlah satu lagi suara rakyat
yang terbuka kerana 'tidak mungkin hamba akan menyanggah tuannya'.
Isu ini menunjukkan Ling Liong Sik akur kepada kehendak Mahathir
dan tidak kepada majoriti masyarakat Cina. Walaupun begitu masyarakat
Cina dijangka tidak akan berdiam diri. Mereka akan membantah
sehingga patah sebagaimana yang terserlah dengan tindakkan piket
dan pemulauan tempoh hari. Ada lagi yang bakal muncul tiba dan
itu semua bakal menghumban BN dan MCA nanti.
Mahathir's Main Ethnic-Chinese Backers
Get Deal to Buy Stake in Malay Publisher
By CRIS PRYSTAY
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- A bid by the main ethnic-Chinese party in
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's coalition government to
acquire two large Chinese-language newspapers could prompt a political
Last week, the Malaysian Chinese Association -- the country's largest
ethnic-Chinese political party -- said its investment arm is
negotiating to buy a controlling stake in Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd.
from a unit of the Hong Leong Group, a privately held conglomerate
controlled by Quek Leng Chan. Nanyang Press -- 70%-owned by Hong
Leong's Hume Industries Bhd. -- publishes Nanyang Siang Pau and the
China Press, dailies with a combined circulation of 390,000.
Protesters outside the offices of the Nanyang Siang Pau newspaper.
Late Monday, Nanyang Press and Hume Industries said they have struck
an agreement for Huaren Management Sdn. Bhd, the business arm of the
MCA, to acquire a 72.35% stake in Nanyang for 230.1 million ringgit
(US$60.6 million). Huaren will purchase the stake from Hume Industries
and its unit, Hume Plastics (Malaysia) Bhd., by the end of the month,
the companies said.
But the planned deal is stirring controversy among opposition parties,
public-interest groups and journalists, who complain that it threatens
to tighten government control of the Malaysian press.
Executives close to the deal say Tan Sri Quek -- one of Malaysia's
wealthiest businessmen -- has been under pressure from the MCA for
months to sell his newspaper holdings to the party. Political analysts
suggest Tan Sri Quek, who was widely seen as a business ally of
now-jailed former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, may be
suffering the same fate as other businessmen perceived to be in Datuk
Seri Anwar's camp. In March, a plan to merge two English-language
newspapers fell through when Tong Kooi Ong, a former banker with close
ties to Datuk Seri Anwar, failed to secure political backing for the
The MCA's newspaper purchase would give the government improved access
to the Chinese community -- which represents about 25% of Malaysia's
population -- at a time when Dr. Mahathir needs to shore up his
support among ethnic Chinese. It would also permit greater control
over Malaysia's Chinese-language press, which often publishes more
critical news and commentary than does the country's mainstream
English- and Malay-language media. In recent months, for example,
Chinese-language papers have given broad coverage to an array of
language and education issues that have stoked discontent with Dr.
Mahathir's government among the Malaysian Chinese community.
The MCA's gambit is risky, however. Over the weekend, 14 Chinese
nongovernmental organizations, ranging from education groups to clan
associations, joined forces with an influential Chinese civil-rights
lobby group and journalists to issue a joint statement condemning the
deal. On Monday, about 100 Nanyang and China Press journalists staged
a demonstration, holding banners that read "fight for press freedom"
and "save the Chinese press." A separate group of 40 free-lance
reporters and columnists announced they would quit contributing to
both papers and vowed to continue their boycott if the MCA takeover
"We don't believe these two papers can remain free with the MCA
takeover. We don't want to be the window dressing for them," said Wong
Chin Huat, who writes a weekly political column for Nanyang.
MCA President Ling Liong Sik, responding to criticism of the takeover
plan, has promised his party won't influence the Chinese papers'
editorial policies. But at a meeting Friday, senior Nanyang editors
were offered a buyout package by a Hong Leong executive and "asked to
leave," according to an editor who was at the meeting. Hong Leong and
Hume executives didn't respond to requests for comment on the planned
The Mahathir government's hold over Malaysia's media is already
strong. The country's two largest Malay-language dailies are owned by
companies with historic links to Dr. Mahathir's United Malays National
Organization, as are the English-language New Straits Times and
The MCA's investment arm owns The Star, the country's largest
"Mahathir is very concerned about the Chinese press. He's losing Malay
support and is now very concerned about non-Malay support," said
Terence Gomez, a political science professor at the University of
The Chinese vote helped shore up Dr. Mahathir's coalition in
Malaysia's 1999 parliamentary election, when a large block of Malay
voters, disillusioned by the jailing of Datuk Seri Anwar on corruption
and s###my charges, defected from UMNO. But Dr. Mahathir alienated
many Chinese last year when he likened a group of ethnic-Chinese
political activists to communists. The group had called for greater
transparency and less corruption, and had urged that merit-based
policies replace some of Malaysia's affirmative-action policies, which
favor Malays in universities, business and employment.
Write to Cris Prystay at firstname.lastname@example.org
Straits Times of Singapore
MCA rift widens over newspaper takeover plan
Deputy president is set to oppose the proposed deal at a meeting,
while PM Mahathir says he neither supports nor objects to the Chinese
By Joceline Tan
THE Malaysian Chinese Association's bid to take control of two Chinese
newspapers is widening the rift in the party, with the party's No 2
planning to oppose the deal at a central committee meeting tomorrow.
Datuk Lim is firmly against the takeover.
MCA deputy president Datuk Lim Ah Lek, who has been at loggerheads
with party president Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik, is expected to
oppose the takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press on the
grounds that ''it goes against the sentiments of the community and the
interests of the party''.
Datuk Lim's action will be the most serious opposition yet to the
controversial deal, that has galvanised Chinese journalists and
influential Chinese NGOs into an alliance with the potential of
growing into a formidable groundswell.
The issue took an interesting turn yesterday when Prime Minister Datuk
Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad told reporters that he ''neither supports nor
objects'' to the proposed deal.
His remarks will have repercussions at the MCA meeting tomorrow
because Dr Ling had told the party presidential council last week that
the Prime Minister had given the green light to the proposed deal.
According to a party official, the president had claimed that an
acquisition of this nature would not be possible without the Prime
Subsequently, all but three of those present at the presidential
council meeting gave their support.
The three who opposed were deputy president Datuk Lim, vice-president
Datuk Chan Kong Choy and central committee member Fu Ah Kiow.
The issue, which has been the talk of the community, has acquired an
emotional tone, with many Chinese likening it to the ''death of a free
Chinese media environment''.
Opponents of the deal are campaigning on the grounds that ''you cannot
expect the servant to check the master''.
The MCA bid, if successful, would effectively result in the Chinese
party controlling the two Chinese publications as well as the top
English daily, The Star.
Chinese lawyer Ser Choon Ing said: ''Just because the Prime Minister
has given the green light does not mean that the Chinese must agree
with the takeover.''
Yesterday, journalists and Chinese NGOs picketed outside the two