Opposition politician Teresa Kok, who has been arrested under the draconian Internal Security Act, has today demanded an apology from Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia for allegedly accusing her of instigating the azan controversy.
Kok, who through her lawyer Sankara Nair (right), also asked for RM30 million in damages for “the injury caused to her reputation”.
The letter of demand, which was faxed to Utusan at 4.40pm today, gave the Malay language daily 24 hours to issue an apology or Kok would slap a law suit against the newspaper.
Utusan had sparked the azan controversy with its article last Wednesday titled, ‘Azan, jawi, JAIS, UiTM dan ba-alif-ba-ya’.
The opinion column, written by award-winning senior editor Zaini Hassan, lambasted an unnamed woman politician of going to a mosque and demanded that it lowered the volume of its loudspeakers during prayers.
According to Zaini, who won the 2006 Kajai award from the Malaysian Press Institute for an article on the ecological destruction of the Bukit Cherakah agricultural park in Shah Alam, described the ‘bespectacled politician’ of being racist and a chauvinist.
Kok (right) has described the article as “grossly negligent, reckless, irresponsible, deliberate and malicious”.
The letter also said that Zaini’s article was “pre-mediated and calculated to tarnish, malign, defame and seriously injure the good name and character” of Kok.
Masjid Kinrara, the mosque which is embroiled in the azan controversy, had denied that Kok had been to the mosque.
Kok, 43, who is also Selangor senior exco member and Kinrara state representative, was arrested under the ISA, which allows for detention without trial, on Friday ostensibly for her role in the controversy.
House speaker told to call emergency meeting
In related development, parliament speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia has been urged to call an emergency parliamentary meeting to discuss the detention of one of its MPs.
“Parliament must take immediate action to protect the rights of MPs from arbitrary, unlawful and undemocratic attacks against MPs and the institution of Parliament,” said DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang in the letter.
In a letter handed over to Pandikar’s office today, Lim has also proposed three other measures to be taken by the Parliament over the arrest of Kok, a three-term MP.
- Convene an urgent meeting of the parliamentary privileges committee to protect the dignity and privileges of MPs and Parliament from arbitrary, unlawful and undemocratic attacks.
- Possible actions against (former Selangor menteri besar) Mohd Khir Toyo, who first wrote about the issue in his blog, and Utusan Malaysia for “imperiling the parliamentary role” of Kok.
- An emergency motion as the first item of business when Parliament reconvenes on Oct 13, 2008 and discuss the motion before the start of the debate on the Budget 2009.
The five-page letter was handed over to Pandikar’s office this morning but the speaker was not present at the time. Apart from Lim, DAP MPs Tan Kok Wai, Fong Kui Lun, Fong Po Kuan, Tony Pua and Lim Lip Eng were also present.
In the letter, Lim also blasted the way Kok was arrested by the police outside of her condominium almost at midnight on Friday, saying that she was treated like a “common criminal”.
He questioned the high-handed manner Kok was nabbed and asked whether she had been deemed the “Malaysian version of Osama bin Laden” who posed a national security threat.
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