Don’t be purveyors of fake news, Putrajaya tells mainstream media

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

PETALING JAYA: Putrajaya today urged the mainstream media to report responsibly and not be used as a weapon or tool to promote private projects that have not obtained approval or even serious consideration.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said failure by the media to filter out baseless, spurious and preposterous claims would render them “no different from being purveyors of fake news or servants of certain private interests, with little thought to the unfortunate consequences from making those claims”.

He said such news only sowed confusion among the industry and the public.

“The government receives numerous proposals that claim to have financial backing worth tens and even hundreds of billions of ringgit.

“These proposals need to be scrutinised comprehensively and comply with due diligence, to differentiate between genuine proposals deserving of further attention, and those that contain half-baked ideas or even scams,” he said in a statement.

The statement was in response to a report in The Star that there were proposals for two airports in the northern region.

The report said two companies had proposed the construction of an airport on a reclaimed island off Parit Buntar, Perak, and another near Bandar Baharu on the borders of Penang, Kedah and Perak, as an integrated facility for the northern part of the peninsula.

According to the report, if either option is taken up, the land on which Penang International Airport (PIA) sits, estimated to be worth RM7.2 billion, will have to be surrendered to the winning proposer. This would also require the closure of PIA.

“Would The Star be printing each of these proposals as front page exclusives on a daily basis, solely based on what their promoters claim?” Lim asked.

He said the Kedah and Penang governments as well as the transport and finance ministries had no knowledge of the proposals.

“Even Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad himself has made it clear that he has only read about these proposals through the media.

“This directly contradicts The Star’s report that made several speculative claims, that one of the project’s sponsors had made presentations to the Prime Minister’s Office on Jan 14 this year, even though they had been planning this for four years.

“Clearly, only The Star is privy to information relating to the project’s viability or the financial track record and background of the sponsors,” Lim said.