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AP: Keng Yaik Condemns Paper Deal
6/6/2001 8:16 am Wed
Tuesday June 5, 7:37 PM
Ally in Malaysian Coalition Govt Condemns Newspaper Deal
KUALA LUMPUR (AP)--In a rare show of discord in Malaysia's government,
one ethnic Chinese party in the ruling coalition criticized another Tuesday for
buying control of two influential newspapers.
Lim Keng Yaik, president of the Gerakan party, urged the Malaysian Chinese
Association, or MCA, to call off its takeover of the two Chinese-language
dailies, saying that the deal could cost the government votes in the next
Gerakan and MCA are allies in Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's National
Front coalition government which has ruled this Southeast Asian country since
independence from Britain in 1957.
Parties in the coalition rarely comment on the internal affairs of others in the
Lim's comments come amid mounting fears among ethnic Chinese leaders and
opposition parties that MCA's takeover of the Nanyang Siang Pau and China
Press newspapers will strengthen government control over the media.
The MCA already holds a majority stake in Malaysia's leading English newspaper
The Star. Mahathir's United Malays National Organization also has strong links
with a company which owns several newspapers and a television station.
The MCA takeover of the two Chinese dailies last week went ahead despite
opposition from some party leaders who fear that it will erode support for the
party. Ethnic Chinese form more than 33% of Malaysia's 22 million population.
Their support ensured Mahathir a win in 1999 general elections despite his own
party losing ground among ethnic Muslim Malays who make up around 60% of
Mahathir has said that he won't stop the takeover.
MCA president Ling Liong Sik said the 230 million-ringgit ($1=MYR3.8) deal
was done purely on commercial considerations and the party won't interfere
with editorial policies.
On Tuesday, Lim said he wasn't convinced by Ling's assurances.
"I have my fears," he was quoted as saying.