PGRM vs BOOK


Stop launch! Gerakan Leader vs Gerakan Book
Beh Lih Yi

July 30, 2008

Even before its scheduled launch in Penang tomorrow, a new book on Gerakan has run into controversy.

MCPX

A Gerakan leader, who is unhappy with the contents, has turned to the courts for an injunction to stop the launch from taking place and to prevent the book from hitting the shelves.

non sectarian politics in malaysia the case of parti gerakan rakyat malaysia khoo kay peng neil khor jin keongChia Loong Thye, who lost in his bid for the Tanjong Bungah state seat in the March 8 polls, claimed that the book titled Non-sectarian politics in Malaysia: The case of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia contained defamatory words against him.

Chia, who is the younger brother of Gerakan secretary-general Kwang Chye, served a letter of demand on the two authors – Khoo Kay Peng and Dr Neil Khor – last Friday.

The authors, the book’s printer and publishing firm were named as the defendants.

The injunction application will be heard by Justice Abdul Wahab Patail hours before the launch at the Kuala Lumpur High Court tomorrow morning.

Lawyers representing both parties have been told to be present, according to Khor’s lawyer Daphne Choy when contacted.

‘Safe’ seat offer

According to a copy of the two-page letter made available to Malaysiakini, Chia took offence over a sentence from the 186-page book which cast aspersions on his and his brother’s characters.

The authors penned that Kwang Chye’s credibility “took a severe beating” when his younger brother was nominated to contest in a “safe” seat during the general election.

chia loong thyeThe letter of demand stated that the controversial wordings constitute a serious charge done without any foundation or basis against Loong Thye and caused him “serious damage and injury.”

“Our client has always conducted himself with integrity and uprightness,” read the letter issued through leading law firm Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill. Loong Thye (left) is one of the firm’s partners.

The letter added that the continued publication of the book will cause Loong Thye “even more irreparable damage particularly to his reputation, profession and career.”

The letter demanded for a full retraction of the wordings, an apology, withdrawal of the book from circulation or to call in copies which have been already distributed. It also demanded for the cancellation of the book’s launch and asked for an unspecified sum in compensation.

The letter stated that Loong Thye will consider taking the necessary steps if the demands are not met.

Contacted this afternoon, the politician declined to comment on his letter of demand, saying that he will leave it to his lawyers to handle the matter.

In the March 8 polls, Loong Thye who made his election debut lost to DAP candidate Teh Yee Cheu by 1,935 votes.

chia kwang chyeTanjong Bungah is one of the four state seats under the Bukit Bendera parliamentary constituency, where Kwang Chye (left) contested and was defeated by DAP newcomer Liew Chin Tong with a whopping 16,112-vote majority.

Previously, both these seats were Gerakan strongholds.

Against public interest

In a reply to the letter of demand on Monday, author Khoo contended that the disputed wordings are not defamatory and declined to comply to the demands.

“The said words, when read in the context of the book, are merely a statement by our client […] on the perception or feeling by some over the nomination of (Loong Thye) for the seat of Tanjong Bungah,” read the reply issued through his counsel Messrs Douglas Yee.

He also argued that the wordings are a minor part of the book and that the attempt to prevent the book launch was against public interest.

The book, which provides insights into Gerakan’s operations is scheduled to be launched by party leader Dr Toh Kin Woon, academician and author Dr Ooi Kee Beng and social activist Anwar Fazal at a hotel in Penang at 4pm tomorrow.

The launch will be followed by a forum to discuss the topic of the book.

When contacted, Khoo – who is also the former head of Gerakan think-tank Sedar – said he was disappointed with the attempt to prevent the book launch.

“The forum however will proceed as scheduled regardless of whether an injunction is granted,” he said.

9 thoughts on “PGRM vs BOOK

  1. A very foolish move really.

    He forgets that he is a politician after all and stood for elections and so the public is allowed to form opinions or perceptions.

    If the contents of the book is disagreeable then by all means refute it and argue your case.

    By trying to suppress the book, it is bringing more attention now to the book.

    Whilst previously, maybe a few would have bothered to read the book, now many more people’s interests would have been aroused.

    What a silly politician. It is no wonder the party did as badly as they did on 8 March!

  2. I participated in a ISEAS seminar in Singapore a few months ago. Khoo Kay Peng was on the panel with me. I am surprised to learn after reading this malaysiakini report that the book he co-authored with Dr. Neil Khor is at the center of a controversy.

    Kay Peng gave me a sneak commentary of the book. I was pleased this bright public intellectual was completing years of research on the Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia as grist for the book. It is a study of a major political party in Malaysia which broke away from the MCA when Tun Tan Siew Sin was its President. The prime mover was Tun Lim Chong Yu, the dynamic and very successful Gerakan Chief Minister of Penang.

    The book launch should be allowed to proceed as scheduled. Gerakan leaders should learn to accept the fact that this book is a critical and historical review of the party, its achievements and strategic direction as seen by a young and erudite researcher.

  3. Hahaha keeps lawyers busy, helps pay for their mortgage! 😀

    Why should the Chia’s be on the defensive, let the people decide what they want to believe. There are better things to attend to, stupid!

  4. As a voter in Tanjong Bungah, I do feel Chia Loong Thye’s candidacy smack of cronyism, and that he was given a safe (so they thought) state seat to contest because his brother was the MP there.

    Correctly or not, I perceive the brothers’ “combined” candidacies as one of self-importance, well-oiled advantages, aloofness, and a lack of concern for voters who are outside of Gerakan.

    Many voters must have been turned off by their ill-considered placement of campaign banners that blocked traffic lights in at least three places (in both directions) in Tanjong Tokong and Tg Bungah, Penang.

    See my gut reaction to this book-blocking move and 4 photos of the campaign banners here
    http://www.penangwatch.net/node/2854#comment-20419

  5. I am afraid some of these politicians have been infected with the UMNO syndrom, ie sue for libel and defamation at the slightest disagreement. It just shows the maturity and intellect of these people that they cannot agree to disagree professionally. I am going out to try grab this book this weekend.

  6. So it’s not what they can contribute to the nation but all about who has a better chance getting to the candy jar? Don’t they deserve Penangite’s rejection?!

  7. Jong, it is ‘cookie jar’ and not ‘candy jar’. Who wants candies?? ‘Cookie jar’ is a container that has cash in it – not candy jar 🙂

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