Umno Youth is prepared to have a dialogue with malaysiakini journalists on press freedom and media issues, its information chief Azimi Daim said today.
Azimi, who lodged a police report on Friday against a ‘seditious’ letter published in malaysiakini, said the subject of press freedom is open for interpretation, and that the wing is willing to have a dialogue about it.
“I will bring along our media experts to the dialogue,” he said when responding to malaysiakini’s informal invitation over the telephone this morning.
He was earlier asked if Umno Youth would reply to the letter written by malaysiakini reader ‘Petrof’, which Umno Youth claimed had likened the wing with the white supremacist group Ku Klux Klan.
In his police report, Azimi claimed that the letter questioned Malay special rights and could instill hatred among non-bumiputeras towards the government.
Yesterday, malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steve Gan invited Umno Youth to respond to the ‘controversial’ Jan 9 letter after the wing called on citizens through Utusan Malaysia to use “proper channels to express their views without hiding behind pseudonyms in cowardly fashion”.
“We will not respond to the letter in writing but we are willing to meet malaysiakini editors if there is official invitation to us,” he said.
Azimi maintained that Petrof’s letter was written in bad faith and could create chaos among races in Malaysia.
“We are not against malaysiakini, but against the content of the letter which its writer failed to take responsibility (by hiding behind a pseudonym) for what he said. The letter is nothing different from a surat layang (poison-pen letter),” he added.
Therefore, he said it would not be a problem for him and other wing members to turn up at malaysiakini office and meet their journalists to discuss the matter and clear the air.
He stressed that Umno Youth will not tolerate any party who questions Malay rights as it is the wing’s responsibility to protect the interests of the Malays.
Asked whether his act had tarnished the government’s image following intensive media coverage and support for press freedom and malaysiakini, Azimi replied that foreigners are interpreting media freedom according to their own definition.
“What is sensitive to us may not be sensitive to them, so they wouldn’t know how we feel when Malay rights are questioned.
“For instance, in Thailand one will know the consequence is their King is questioned. on the other hand, media in the United Kingdom is free to criticise the palace in any way they like,” Azimi said.
As a result of the police report, a 10-member police team led by Supt Mohd Kamaruddin Md Din raided the online daily’s office on Monday and confiscated 15 CPUs and four servers from the editorial department.