Malaysia's former finance minister to file defamation suit over false story on son's arrest

Mr Lim Guan Eng, secretary-general of the Democratic Action Party, has lashed out at the attacks on his family members, saying his political opponents have shown themselves to be without any shame.
Mr Lim Guan Eng, secretary-general of the Democratic Action Party, has lashed out at the attacks on his family members, saying his political opponents have shown themselves to be without any shame.PHOTO: CHINA PRESS

Malaysia's former finance minister Lim Guan Eng is filing a defamation suit against an Umno Youth leader over a false story alleging his son was arrested in Singapore.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Lim, who is also secretary-general of the Democratic Action Party (DAP), said his family is "furious" over the claim, which was also published by Chinese daily Nanyang Siang Pau.

"My family is furious for such shameless targeting of our innocent children, who are not in politics," said Mr Lim.

He said the false accusation was also repeated by political parties Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) and supporters of the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

Mr Lim said: "A national Umno Youth leader using the name, 'Papa Azri', had started off this malicious lie by stating that I flew to Singapore on Feb 29, after my son was hauled up at Singapore Airport for bringing in RM2 million (S$661,400) in cash without proper declaration.

"This news then went viral through the BN and Umno support groups, especially their Internet websites."

Papa Azri is a moniker used by Umno Youth leader Wan Muhammad Azri.

Rumours of 28-year-old Clint Lim's arrest in Singapore went viral last Saturday on social media, and the story was written up by pro-Umno blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin in the Malaysia Today site.

Nanyang issued a statement yesterday apologising to the affected person in the article, as well as to its readers. It had identified the affected person only as the son of a senior Pakatan Harapan (PH) leader, but not named Mr Lim or the DAP, which is part of the PH pact.

"Upon checks, the report was based on incorrect information," the Chinese daily said.

This is not the first time Mr Lim's children have been the subject of false reports.

In 2011, various blogs uploaded a post alleging that another son, Marcus, had molested a classmate. The claim was shown to be false after the purported victim, a chess champion from Hong Kong, said she had never met him.

On Saturday, national police chief Hamid Bador confirmed that allegations of Clint's arrest were unfounded. "It is definitely not true. We have not received any report that his (Mr Lim's) son was detained in Singapore," Tan Sri Hamid said. "This is definitely fake news being spread," he told The Star daily.

Mr Hamid said the police will instead investigate the perpetrators behind the misinformation.

Mr Lim said that as a political leader he expected to be attacked by his opponents with threats and falsehoods. But he lashed out at the attacks against his family, saying: "My political opponents who are now in power have shown themselves without any shame, bereft of moral or humane values and upbringing by mercilessly targeting my innocent children."

PH, which now comprises DAP, Parti Keadilan Rakyat and Parti Amanah Negara, was ousted from power last month after Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia exited the then ruling pact and left it without a majority in Parliament. The new government, Perikatan Nasional, comprises a loose partnership of Bersatu, Umno, PAS and Gabungan Parti Sarawak.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2020, with the headline 'Malaysia's former finance minister to file defamation suit over false story on son's arrest'. Print Edition | Subscribe