KOTA KINABALU: A Warisan Youth exco member has accused the chief editor of a local daily here of misleading the public by adding words to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s response to his questions.
Norazmi Alimat said that as a result of Daily Express chief editor James Sarda’s article on Aug 17, Mahathir was misrepresented in saying Sabah leaders at the federal level had not raised major issues in the Cabinet.
These issues involved the departure levy, the introduction of Jawi script in the Bahasa Melayu syllabus for Year 4 pupils and the appointment of the new Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) vice-chancellor.
The local newspaper had quoted Mahathir as saying: “As far as I’m concerned, they (Sabahan representatives in the federal Cabinet) did not say anything (about various current issues).”
De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong demanded a retraction by the newspaper.
Norazmi said Liew was quick to point out the mistake Sarda committed by providing footage of the original interview.
“Nowhere in the response did the prime minister say that the Sabah ministers were not vocal about these issues.
“Despite the evidence, Sarda refused to offer any apology or retract the article,” he said in a statement today.
He said Sarda had made several unfounded assumptions in his article.
“The first was when he assumed Mahathir had said the Sabah government did not say anything when nowhere in Tun’s response did he suggest so.
“Secondly, Sarda claimed there is no misreporting because he assumes ‘Sabah government leaders’ means ‘Sabah ministers at the federal level’.”
He said the seasoned journalist should have understood the difference.
Meanwhile, Sabah opposition leader Jeffrey Kitingan accused Liew of trying to “shift the blame” when he questioned the Daily Express report.
He said Liew could have verified the matter by checking other media reports before “playing his blame game”, adding that he was “too much in a hurry” trying to defend Mahathir.
“He should have addressed the questions directly, taking the bull by the horns, and offered a reasonable explanation, even if he was reluctant to admit that Sabah has again been grossly taken for granted in national decision-making affecting the state,” the Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) president said in a statement.
He said that by shifting the blame, Liew had tried to avoid the real issues affecting Sabahans.