Kuala Lumpur: Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Wednesday criticised a “previous leader” of the country for his track record in press freedom, while launching the inaugural National Journalists’ Day.
Najib, now a caretaker prime minister after Parliament’s dissolution on Saturday, said the federal government under his previous administration had instead facilitated press freedom.
“This is clearly different from the track record in press freedom during the era of the key leader of the current administration, that previously ‘ruled the country for 22 years’,” he said in his speech.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman did not mention any names, but seemed to allude to former Prime Minister-turned-political nemesis Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who governed Malaysia between 1981 and 2003.
Najib cited 1987’s Operasi Lalang where over 100 people were detained without trial under the Internal Security Act and three newspapers – The Star, Sin Chew Jit Poh and Watan – had their printing permits suspended.
He said the international body, Committee to Protect Journalists, had, for three consecutive years from 1999 to 2001, named the still-unnamed leader as one of the “10 enemies of the press”.
“What an accomplishment,” Najib added, mockingly.