SINGAPORE - Our Page 1 headline and story Welcome to Malaysia, where... Death is Cheap and Staying Alive Costly (TNP July 31) has upset Malaysia's Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
He claimed the article did not contain facts but was based merely on opinions.
The New Paper (TNP) should have contacted his ministry to find out the actual facts behind the shooting cases that had taken place recently, he told Malaysia's Malay-language Berita Harian.
Singapore's Foreign Affairs Ministry also expressed its displeasure at the headline in a letter to TNP. (See report below)
We quoted Malaysian private investigators as saying it costs RM$5,000, or about S$2,000 to hire a hit man.
Not just for the rich
"Almost anybody can afford to hire a hitman. Not only the rich can hire contract killers now," one of them told us.
Dr Wan Junaidi said the report could affect the good ties between Malaysia and Singapore.
He also said it showed Malaysia in a bad light to the rest of the world and will have a negative impact on its tourism and investment sectors.
Editor Dominic Nathan said: "We regret that The New Paper's Page 1 headline was read as being insulting. It was not our intent. "We wanted to draw our readers' attention to the threat of gun violence in Malaysia. What we reported was also covered extensively in the Malaysian media."
Former New Straits Times group editor A. Kadir Jasin backed the article.
He said in a post: "Being a Singapore paper, it is responsible to the Singaporeans. Since many Singaporeans live in Malaysia or visit our country, it's the paper's right and responsibility to warn its readers of the risk that they may face while in Malaysia.
"Is it not a fact that Malaysia is becoming more and more dangerous? Don't just blame the Singapore newspapers. Our own newspapers are replete with stories of murder and mayhem.
"In fact, crime stories have become the staple of our newspapers. They regularly made the front page."
Meanwhile Malaysian newspapers have reacted strongly to the spate of gun attacks. There have been more than 10 since April.
The Star began its July 31 editorial by saying: "Another day, another shooting. It seems as if we are becoming as dangerous as some South American nations where gun violence seems to be the norm.
It's just not confined to one or two areas but is happening across the nation."
The editorial went on to say that police's answer was to set up "yet another 'high-powered' task force".
"Actually, we have lost count of how many high-powered or high-level committees and task forces have been set up to investigate the various shooting crimes.
"In fact, we are still waiting for some indication of the progress made by the task force set up in May to hunt down those responsible for the spate of shooting cases then, including the murder of Customs deputy director-general Datuk Shaharuddin Ibrahim."
It went on to talk about how criminals, and not just gunmen, were getting brazen in their attacks.
The editorial concluded by saying: "But more action and arrests are what is desperately needed because the ferocity and the increasing number of assassinations are striking fear in all of us.
"Our top cops may continue to try to assure us that our nation is still very safe but unfortunately, that's just not good enough."
Chinese newspaper Sin Chew Daily was equally hard hitting.
In an article headlined Declare War Against Crime, it said: "If foreign experts dare not come, how are we going to have economic transformation?
"This time, not only Chinese-language newspapers have published the shooting on their cover page, but English-language and Malay-language newspapers, too, have made it a cover page story, proving that Chinese-language newspapers have not hyped it, but the poor public security has indeed reached a worrying level."
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