|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.
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.
Chia 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.
The 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.
Tanjong 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.