Chua Soi Lek should have the courage to admit his and MCA’s mistakes and to apologise to the Chinese community for going against the community’s wishes in the “528” takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press in 2001
May 28, 2001 was a black day for the Malaysian Chinese community and a blow to press freedom when MCA went ahead to acquire Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press Daily despite strong protest from the Chinese community.
The takeover was made through MCA’s Huaren Holdings Sdn. Bhd. for RM230 million.
Although MCA had then defended the takeover as a business deal, the argument was not convincing at all.
But yet MCA which claims to represent the interest of the Chinese community went ahead with the arrogant proposal.
Last week, MCA disposed off the remaining 3.6% shares and MCA‘s Youth Chief Datuk Wee Ka Siong had apologized for the Party’s takeover of the two dailies.
However, MCA president Dato Chua Soi Lek refused to tender an apology. He was reported to say yesterday that the issue of an apology did not arise and it could not rectify anything.
Chua has also stressed that MCA will not sell off other media organisations owned by the party through Huaren, including the Star English daily and several radio stations despite calls by media watchdogs for the Chinese-based party to totally withdraw from the media industry.
He said , "In a democratic country, every NGO is entitled to express their view and the same also applies to political parties. However, this does not mean that when some people express their view, other people have to agree."
Chua’s argument for not tendering an apology for the “ 528 takeover ”is not acceptable. Neither is his justification for MCA not to withdraw totally from the media industry.
Firstly, as one of the leaders who strongly supported the “528 takeover” of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press and as the present MCA president, Chua Soi Lek should have the courage to admit his and MCA’s mistakes and apologise to the Chinese community for going against the community’s wishes.
He should in fact also apologise to the top managers and editors of the two newspapers who had to leave immediately as a result of the takeover deal.
Secondly, MCA should uphold the principle that in a vibrant democracy, free, independent and professional media are important and hence there must be no political party ownership of the media industry.
The question therefore is not that MCA has to listen to every NGO’s view, but a question whether it is committed to what should be the right practice in a democracy.