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Zainuddin should be concerned that Federal Court decision on Lina Joy case biggest P.R. disaster for Malaysia in recent times with some 400 reports in world media in past 48 hours


Media Statement      
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Parliament, Friday) : Information Minister, Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin would do greater good as Information Minister to inform himself to understand the deep well-springs of disappointment and frustration among Malaysians with the Federal Court 2-1 decision on the Lina Joy case instead of just demonizing the foreign media as is his wont. 

Yesterday, Zainuddin accused the western media for taking  advantage of the court decision in the Lina Joy case to run down Malaysia as an Islamic country that practises injustice.

He cited the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for using the “screaming headline”,  "Malaysia Rejects Christian Appeal", and The Times for saying that the court decision is “a slap in the face for religious freedom in Malaysia”. 

The BBC, the Times and the Western media should be perfectly capable of defending themselves against the attacks by Zainuddin that they “will use any opportunity for 'Islamic bashing' without regard for any country as long as it practises Islamic law". 

The pertinent question is whether Zainuddin understands the widespread and deep-seated anxieties and fears  by thoughtful Malaysians whose only concern is to preserve and  uphold  the Merdeka “Social Contract” entered into by the forefathers of the major communities build a nation founded on the constitutional principles of freedom of religion, the Constitution as the supreme law of the land and Malaysia as a secular nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state; but who see these principles being relentlessly eroded particularly in the past decade. 

Zainuddin, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz and even the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi have come out publicly in support of the Federal Court’s 2-1 decision in rejecting the Lina Joy appeal. 

Abdullah said no pressure had been exerted on the judges by the government in the Lino Joy judgment.   

I accept Abdullah’s assurance, but then even the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad would have been able to make such statements with a straight face because pressures on judges would not have been exercised in a direct fashion even in Mahathir’s 22 years as Prime Minister. 

But this does not mean that there is in Malaysia an environment where a truly independent judiciary and a just rule of law could flourish or Malaysia would not have lost in the past two decades its high international  reputation for judicial independence, integrity and impartiality recognized universally in the first three decades of nationhood. 

With Abdullah, Nazri and Zainuddin making their public stand in support of the Federal Court decision in the Lina Joy case, what is the position of the non-Umno Ministers, whether MCA, Gerakan, MIC, SUPP, PBS or other Sabah and Sarawak component parties of the Barisan Nasional? 

Or do we have a position where Cabinet Ministers are only permitted to make public their position on the Federal Court decision in the Lina Joy case if it is one of support, but not one of opposition? 

It is a matter of concern that as Information Minister who keeps track of world-wide media coverage,  Zainuddin is not in the least concerned that the Lina Joy case is one the biggest P.R. disasters for Malaysia in recent times – particularly with our attempt to promote “Visit Malaysia Year 2007” and generally present a good image of the country in the era of borderless world of globalization. 

A check with shows that the Federal Court decision on Lino Joy  had generated some 400 reports in various media all over the world in the past 48 hours – portraying Malaysia as a country where fundamental liberties and civil rights are not accorded their proper protection. 

If Malaysia is to be an active player in the world of globalization, the government must be gravely concerned by this development which must be regarded as a double minus both nationally and internationally.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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