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M'sian journalists condemn suspension of weekly newspaper

Publication Date : 21-12-2013


Journalist groups in Malaysia have condemned the home ministry’s decision to indefinitely suspend weekly newspaper The Heat, saying that it went against democratic principles.

National Union of Journalists (NUJ) president Chin Sung Chew said the government should have been more open to criticism instead of reacting in such a manner.

“The ministry’s action is totally contradictory to what a democratic government should uphold in a democratic society,” he told The Star in a text message.

Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) executive director Masjaliza Hamzah condemned the suspension, calling it an attack on media freedom.

She said the suspension went against Section 13B of the Printing Presses and Publications Act, which she said recognised the right of the publisher to be heard before a printing licence was revoked or suspended.

"The suspension shows that despite the amendments to the Act which is to check ministerial power, the home minister still has a firm choke hold over print media, and whether a publication is able to print or not is still at the pleasure of the home minister,” said Masjaliza, who advised the government to be serious about reform and repeal the Act.

Over in Bukit Mertajam, Penang, chief minister Lim Guan Eng called on Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to explain why the weekly newspaper was suspended.

Lim also slammed the federal government for not carrying out their promises.

"The practice and the promise are so different.

"Before the General Election, they promised media freedom. Now, it's media restriction," he said on Friday.

Lim added that the suspension indicated that media freedom in Malaysia is moving from bad to worse.

The weekly newspaper The Heat was suspended indefinitely by the home ministry Thursday.

The suspension order was announced in a statement published in its sister publication The Ant Daily news portal.

It was issued a show-cause letter by the home ministry last week and given 14 days to reply, but the reasons for the suspension are not known.


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