GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Malaysian government has trained its guns on naysayers, saying they will pay "a very high price" for spinning stories.
"This is not a warning. I am taking action without warning," said Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
"You will have to pay a very expensive price. Don't ever spin. This is Zahid Hamidi, okay?"
Addressing the Bayan Baru Umno annual general meeting on Sunday, he said Umno and Barisan Nasional would never compromise on this.
"Not under my leadership; I am telling you this. Don't expect me to warn, expect me to take action," he said to applause from the audience.
He spoke on the need for ethics in journalism. "You have to respect ethics. You write based on facts; don't interpret and don't ever spin."
Dr Ahmad Zahid made it clear that he was "colour blind" when it came to taking action.
"I am a fundamentalist in Islam. I am a Malay but I'll never forget non-Muslims and other races. I am a minister for all Malaysians; a Deputy Prime Minister for all Malaysians.
"But I will never compromise my principles for Islam and Malays.
"I have to be fair to the rest, but do not question my stand," he said.
Dr Ahmad Zahid also said the time for complacency was over and Barisan Nasional and Umno should rise now.
"Stop fighting among ourselves and face our political opponents. Don't be caught in a snare of lies.
"Use social network to counter slander," he said.
"Umno and Barisan Nasional are hard to be broken from the outside but easily broken from the inside. What happens among us is an attempt to break us from the inside with our different views.
"We have to move forward."
He said it was crucial for Umno members to win the hearts and minds of the people.
"We know that there are those among our political opponents who monitor every word we say and our movements.
"We need to be serious and fight our political enemy," he said.
Later at a press conference, Dr Ahmad Zahid dispelled talk that he would block social networking sites.
"Social networking sites or news portals come under the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission.
"Do not smear my name. Their intention was to portray that I am not familiar with the law," he said.
Such rumours, he said, was an attempt to make social media operators hate him.
"Retract your lies now. Don't play with me and don't spread lies against any party or country leader.
"Do not use the freedom of speech and freedom of expression to spread lies.
"If the police manage to find the source, tiada maaf baginya (no pardon for you)," he said.