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AWSJ: M'sia's Chinese Step Up Campaign Against Buyout of Nanyang
By Cris Prystay
5/6/2001 10:42 am Tue
[Mahathir mungkin boleh menekan dan mencengkam dunia persurat-khabaran
melayu tetapi dengan akhbar Cina ia tidak semudah itu. Masyarakat Cina
telah bersatu (menubuhkan kesatuan CAT - National Assembly of Chinese
Organizations Against the MCA Takeover of Nanyang Pres) mendesak tindakan
mengambil-alih Nanyang dibatalkan jika tidak ia akan meninggalkan perjuangan
MCA kerana langsung tidak ambil perduli masyarakat yang ingin diwakilinya.
CAT baru sahaja melancarkan program anti pengambil-alihan itu keseluruh
Kemarahan gabungan kesatuan masyarakat Cina itu amat membimbangkan Chua
kerana pengaruh dan sumbangan mereka kepada kemenangan MCA selama ini.
Dengan berpaling dari tuntutan mereka, MCA akan menghadapi risiko kepupusan
sokongan yang amat diperlukan dalam pemilu nanti. Seluruh masyarakat melayu
harus mempelajari sesuatu di sini. Kita akur sahaja bila akhbar melayu
dicengkam dan tidak mendesak kerajaan sebegitu berkesan - apatah lagi
untuk bersatu membentuk satu badan untuk mengganyang cengkaman pemberitaan.
Malaysia's Chinese Step Up Campaign
Against the Buyout of Nanyang Press
By CRIS PRYSTAY
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Chinese community groups opposed to the
takeover of two influential Chinese-language newspapers by a party in
Malaysia's ruling coalition stepped up their campaign against the
buyout, calling for a nationwide readership boycott and promising a
petition drive against the sale.
Huaren Management Sdn. Bhd., the business arm of the Malaysian Chinese
Association, or MCA, which is part of the governing coalition, bought
a 72.3% stake in Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd. from a unit of Hong Leong
Group on May 30 for 230.1 million ringgit ($60.6 million). Nanyang
Press publishes Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press, two dailies with a
combined circulation of 390,000.
The deal has angered ethnic-Chinese groups, who say it is designed to
silence the relatively outspoken Chinese-language press. It has also
opened a rift within the MCA, as a growing number of the party's
politicians express concern that the issue could alienate the
electorate at a time when government needs to shore up support among
"I truly appreciate the Chinese community, which in the last two
elections strongly supported us. Do we now ignore their views? Do we
wish to risk an erosion of their support?" asked Health Minister Chua
Jui Meng, an MCA member of Parliament who voted against the deal.
Mr. Chua's fears were played out late last week as anger spread
throughout the Chinese community. On May 30, 245 ethnic Chinese from
nongovernmental organizations, ranging from education groups to clan
associations, formed the National Assembly of Chinese Organizations
Against the MCA Takeover of Nanyang Press. The group, which announced
on Friday a nationwide campaign against the move, issued an open
letter to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad asking him to quash the
deal. The influential Association of Chinese Chambers of Commerce and
Industry also weighed in, offering to broker a new deal with Hong
Leong, provided the MCA withdraws.
In the letter, the coalition warned that "the Chinese community will
abandon the MCA if the party chooses to ignore the views of the very
community it claims to represent."
The ethnic-Chinese vote helped shore up Dr. Mahathir's ruling
coalition in the 1999 elections. But Dr. Mahathir alienated many
Chinese last August when he likened a powerful Chinese lobby group to
communists. The lobby group had called for greater transparency, less
corruption and the elimination of some of the country's pro-Malay
affirmative-action policies, which favor Malays in university,
business and employment. Malays make up about 60% of Malaysia's 22
million people, and Chinese account for about 30%.
In recent months, Chinese 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 already owns Star Publications Bhd., which publishes
Malaysia's most widely read English-language newspaper. The country's
two largest Malay-language dailies, and the English-language New
Straits Times and Business Times, are owned by companies with historic
links to Dr. Mahathir's United Malays National Organization.
Huaren will use its entire stake in Star as collateral for a 230
million ringgit loan to finance the acquisition of Nanyang.