What freedom of speech, Gerakan asks Guan Eng


Penang Gerakan leader says legal notice from tunnel project company proves dissent not tolerated and dares CM to live up to recent statement on free speech.

(FMT) – The threat of legal action against Gerakan by a state government-appointed tunnel contractor shows there is no freedom of speech in Penang, state Gerakan acting Youth chief Jason Loo said.

He said the move by the contractor went against Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s recent statement that Penang was the “only place where there is freedom before speech and freedom after speech in Malaysia”.

Loo said he had previously raised questions on the RM6.3 billion George Town-Butterworth undersea tunnel and the three paired roads project, for the good of Penangites.

“The rakyat in Penang will be sued if you asked constructive questions that involve public interest.

“If Penang is the only place that has freedom of speech, before and after, can the chief minister stand with the rakyat and get the tunnel builders to withdraw their allegations (against Loo) as it is not justified.

“No matter what, I will not bow to any threat as long as the issues that I am harping on can benefit Penangites,” Loo told reporters at the Speakers’ Square at the Esplanade here today.

The joint venture company carrying out the tunnel and road construction, Consortium Zenith-BUCG (CZBUCG), had warned Loo from making further statements on the project as he had shared “untruths” of the project through a series of press conferences.

Loo showed a copy of the legal notice from the company’s lawyers, Harjinder and Associates, dated June 30 this year.

It had stated that an article titled “Gerakan Youth: China firm says tunnel study is RM90m” published by news portal Malayskini on June 23 was defamatory to CZBUCG.

It also listed two offending paragraphs:

“Loo claimed that the feasibility study and detailed design for the undersea tunnel and three highways cost only RM90 million (US$22 million) and not RM305 million as claimed by the Penang government.”

“What happened to the balance of RM215 million?” he asked at a press conference at Gerakan’s headquarters in Jalan Macalister here today. Did anyone siphon off the money?”

CZBUCG’s lawyers also demanded Loo to formally apologise and announce it through a press conference within 72 hours of the letter, or be sued.

He has also been told to sign a letter promising he would not speak of the undersea tunnel and three paired roads project again.

Loo said he was unperturbed by the suit and vowed to fight it “head on”. He said a “letter of denial” was sent through his lawyers to Harjinder and Associates on July 5.

CZBUCG has also threatened to sue Parti Cinta Malaysia Vice-President Huan Cheng Guan over his criticism towards the undersea tunnel and roads project.

Huan has sent a legal notice to CZBUCG and vowed to file a counter-suit.