PKR vice-president Tian Chua today denied claiming the shootout in Lahad Datu was an Umno conspiracy, contradicting what was published in PKR organ KeadilanDaily on March 1.
The KeadilanDaily article “Insiden tembakan di Lahad Datuk Konspirasi terancang Umno – Tian” (Shooting incident in Lahad Datu a planned conspiracy by Umno – Tian) sparked intense outrage among the public, who have taken to the streets as well as lodged police reports over Tian Chua’s alleged statements.
But Tian Chua stressed today the headline was not his own words and did not reflect his beliefs, urging the public to instead focus on the direct quotes published in the article, which is available online.
“When I told the reporter I believed there was a conspiracy by the Umno government, I was referring only to the media blackout, and the fact that pro-Umno bloggers were claiming the opposition was behind the armed incursion in Sabah,” Tian Chua, the Batu MP, said at a press conference here today.
“When [the reporter] asked me about the shooting, I told the reporter: ‘don’t speculate, there has been no confirmation’. [This is because] it was 12pm at that time, and there was no news from Malaysian media [on Lahad Datu].”
Lending credence to Tian Chua’s denial is the fact that not one of his quotes in the article referred to the shootout itself.
His three quotes in the article are:
“We feel that it is strange that the Malaysian media did not report the incident. All sources of reports are from foreign media.
“Where did they get the info when there are no media representatives allowed to cover it? In fact, we don’t know how true the news that has been reported is.
“There is a conspiracy by the Umno government to divert the Sabahans’ attention, especially in the issue of ICs being distributed to Sabahans.”
But the article’s headline as well as contents led readers to believe his quote on the “Umno conspiracy” was a direct reference to the shootout last Friday, in which two policemen and 12 armed intruders were killed.
While Tian Chua today stopped short of calling the KeadilanDaily article misleading, he stressed that he was not responsible for how the editors had written the story.
“That’s always the case; I am only responsible for my direct quotes. It is the rights of the editor to arrange the news as they wish.”
He also said he stood by his position that the finger-pointing and media blackout were an Umno conspiracy, and hence refused to apologise over the matter.
On Tuesday, Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor had sent a letter of demand for Tian Chua to apologise to the party or risk legal action.
Responding to this, Tian Chua said: “The issue of apologising does not exist because I never insulted anyone. I wish to go to court and clarify this. I believe the judge is intelligent enough to read the article and know what I mean.”