DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang today pointed out that Malaysia under Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's administration has once again made international headlines for all the wrong reasons.
In a statement, Lim attributed the situation to Najib's "two self-inflicted 'black eyes' on the Ides of March (March 15)."
"On this Ides of March, Malaysia became international news for a double event – the arrest and deportation of two Australian journalists from ABC 'Four Corners' and the closure of the Internet news portal, The Malaysian Insider , as a result of government harassment against independent journalism...," he said.
On the arrest and deportation of journalist Linton Besser and cameraman Louie Eroglu from Sarawak, Lim cited at least 20 international headlines published from March 13 to March 15.
The articles were published by news outlets from Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, US and many others.
"Is this the international publicity Malaysia needs at this time, when the country has been buffeted with one bad news after another for the past two years?" Lim asked.
Aside from controversies surrounding the Australian news crew, he said the second incident which had tarnished Malaysia's reputation was the closing of online portal The Malaysian Insider .
He pointed out that international news reports on the matter had linked it to the government's earlier move to block TMI and its reporting on 1MDB, as well as Najib's alleged financial scandals.
"Has Malaysia’s international image and reputation not gone south enough in the past two years, and are Malaysians content to see our international reputation to continue travel south and deep like the disappeared MH370?
"I have seen the video of the ABC journalist Linton Bresser questioning Prime Minister Najib (Abdul Razak) in Kuching last Saturday which showed that the journalists did not breach any security cordon, as claimed by police," he said.
In noting that the two journalists were among the crowd greeting Najib, Lim repeated Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto's question on the difference between being up close to take selfies and asking questions.
As such, the Gelang Patah MP urged Najib to present a ministerial statement in Parliament on lessons learnt in the recent series of public relations "disasters”.