Tuesday, October 14, 2008

UMNO members splash cash to save Utusan Malaysia

Seputeh MP, Teresa Kok will file a RM30 million suit against Utusan Malaysia and columnist Mohd Zaini Hassan for defamation. [Malaysiakini, 9/10/08]

The Cheras Umno division has started a fund to assist Utusan Malaysia in defending itself against a RM30mil defamation lawsuit filed by Seputeh MP Teresa Kok. [The Star, 12/10/08]

On October 9, DAP Seputeh MP Teresa Kok announced that she intends to sue the Malay-language daily, Utusan Malaysia for RM30 million over false reporting and defamation in their article which resulted in her arrest under the Internal Security Act in mid September.

Utusan Malaysia columnist, Zaini Hassan, in his article titled "Azan, jawi, JAIS, UiTM dan ba-alif-ba-ya", accused the Seputeh MP of going to a mosque early in the morning to ask the congregation not to use loudspeakers. Former Selangor Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mohd Khir Toyo, however, also alleged Teresa of leading a petition in the State Assembly to ban the Muslim azan prayer call by mosques in Puchong and Kota Damansara.

Teresa had fervently denied the existence of the petition or her involvement in any movement to ban Muslim prayer call. The columinst, however, challenged the Seputeh MP to undergo a polygraph test to prove her innocence.

Now, the UMNO-owned Utusan Malaysia is slapped with a RM30 million suit in their face for their over-zealous politicking to label to Opposition MP as anti-Malay and Islam.

In the midst of a legal battle, Cheras UMNO has launched a donation drive in a bid to rescue their party's mouthpiece as the prospect of losing the legal suit comes knocking on their door. Its division chief, Datuk Syed Ali Al Habshee got the ball rolling with a personal contribution of RM20,000.

On October 4, the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) announced that the organisation was set to sue Utusan Malaysia for RM1 million over their defamatory report. Utusan Malaysia had earlier reported that the Hindraf's recent visit to the Prime Minister's Hari Raya Open House was unruly, provocative and distruptive to the celebrative mood.

Hindraf also highlighted a commentary in the daily that it had the intention to instigate racial hatred towards to Indian and Hindu community.

"Kalau penyokong Hindraf melakukan penghinaan seumpama itu di kawasan-kawasan pendalaman yang menjadi kampung halaman orang Melayu, mereka sudah pun diajar tentang makna dan akibat berperangai kurang ajar. (If Hindraf supporters pour such insults in the interior areas dominated by Malays, they would have been taught a lesson on the meaning and consequence of misbehaviour.)" [Utusan Malaysia, 3/10/08]
You may read Utusan Malaysia's commentary here.

Contrary to Utusan Malaysia's report, Hindraf insisted that they were "welcomed" by the Prime Minister and had received no objections from the Prime Minister's secretary to their prior written request to attend the gathering. The organisation also challenged public television channel, TV3 to broadcast the gathering on air to prove if Hindraf had behaved unruly or disrespectful as claimed by Utusan Malaysia.

On September 19, Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh has already filed a RM10 million suit against Utusan Malaysia for misqouting him in their report, "DAP diingat jangan bakar perasaan Melayu (DAP reminded not to inflame sentiments of Malays)" dated August 25. Karpal was alleged to have commented on Islam in his welcoming speech at the 15th DAP National Congress. Utusan Malaysia also claimed that Karpal was a politician bent on creating ill-will among the different communities in the country - a statement which was marked as seditious and defamatory by the Bukit Gelugor MP.

The controversial Utusan Malaysia now has to fight a three-front war which might just prove too costly for the Malay-language daily. Three legal battles and the potential loss of RM41 million from their coffers might just put an end to the atrocities Utusan Malaysia have been spiking all these years with their false reporting and mallicious commentaries. But who knows, UMNO is after all their prince in shining armour who is already prancing to their rescue.