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Stop intimidating Suara Keadilan, Harakah and The Rocket

Date : 14th July 2010

Press Statement by LLG Cultural Development Centre (LLG)

The government has rejected the renewal of the printing permit of Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s organ Suara Keadilan and vowed it would take action against printer and distributor. LLG is of the view that the government has violated the principle of press freedom. Since Felda had decided to sue Suara Keadilan over the article “Felda Bankrupt”, the government ought not prohibit Suara Keadilan from continuing publishing. It should let the legal system to complete the process, in line with the spirit of rule of law.

The allegation by opposition that Felda’s asset had dropped tremendously and possibly caused by corruption and squandering is obviously a topic relevant to public interest. The government’s decision to ban Suara Keadilan after the revelation of the issue is dubious. Such move will deprive people’s right to information and deem partial towards the interest of government.

We are against the government’s act of prohibiting publications and circulation of information arbitrarily. Freedom of expression is fundamental to a democratic society. The government should ensure greatest possible space of freedom for the people. In order to improve the standard and quality of news reporting, the government must allow more new media to exist to counterbalance those which often provide false and biased informations. Healthy competition will compel media practitioners to maintain a high standard of professionalism.

We condemn the Home Ministry for giving a show cause letter to Parti Islam Se-Malaysia’s organ Harakah for “selling the publication to non-members ” and other technical reasons. That publications of political parties can only distribute to members clearly violates freedom of information.

It is disturbing to know that Democratic Action Party’s organ The Rocket also received a show cause letter for continuing publishing  two versions after expiration of their  publication permit. According to DAP publicity secretary Tony Pua, application to renew the permit had already been submitted and Home Ministry was often late in approving the permit.

We hold that Members of the public have every right to know what PKR, PAS and DAP’s stand and opinions on various issues facing the country.

The printing licence system instituted under 1984 Printing Presses and Publications Act strictly controls domestic media, causing printing media to impose self-censorship and self-restriction within a presumed  permissible zone. We urge the government to amend the act, abolishing printing licence system and replacing it with registration system to protect media’s right to dissemination and people’s right to information

Dato’ Dr. Toh Kin Woon

President of LLG