Tabung Azan for Utusan Malaysia. We live in interesting times, where those who complain about the mainstream media being muzzled by the authorities are also the ones who sue these media at the slightest provocation.
DAP's Teresa Kok has filed a RM30 million suit against Utusan Malaysia, the Bahasa Malaysia daily controlled by Umno, over the azan issue. Another DAP leader has also sued the same newspaper for RM10 million, despite the newspaper having published an apology for a mistake it did in a report affecting the politician.
One can argue that ordinary people and organisations sue newspapers all the time. But Ms Kok is not an ordinary person and the DAP is not an ordinary body. As a people's representative, we expect Ms Kok to fight for our basic freedoms, including assuring Malaysians of the all-important Press Freedom.
If Ms Kok and the DAP really believe in the freedom of, say, the Rocket and Malaysia Today, they must also believe in the freedom of Utusan Malaysia.
When I was editor of Business Times and The Malay Mail, I lost many nights' sleep over legal suits filed by disgruntled individuals and organisations. Many politicians were unhappy but none sued because we provided them with the right of reply. And we published without malice. The newspapers I led never sued anyone, either.
I hope politicians will not make it a habit to sue the media, old and new. I hope Theresa would find it fit to withdraw her suit against Utusan Malaysia.
I must applaud Syed Ali Alhabshee's initiative over the weekend to come to the defence of Utusan Malaysia. Some will see it as a political gimmick, but I see the Umno Cheras' inititiave for its simple message: if we believe in a freedom, we must defend that freedom at all times.
Read Syed Ali Alhabshee's posting on the Tabung Azan for Utusan Malaysia, h e r e.
Updates, 530 pm:
Note: I'm including the article about Karpal Singh suing Utusan. I understand from this article that Utusan had apologized for the error in its reporting. And thanks Sinatra_Z for the RM30 million ringgit article
Karpal sues Utusan for RM10 million h e r e
The article that made Theresa Kok sue for RM30 million h e r e