Human Rights Watch urges Malaysia to end ban on opposition publications

Malaysia: End Ban on Opposition Papers | Human Rights Watch

Malaysia’s Home Ministry should immediately rescind its order suspending publication of two opposition party newspapers, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch also called for repeal of the 1984 Printing Presses and Publications Act.

On March 23, the Home Ministry notified the opposition party Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and its coalition partner Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) that they were prohibited from publishing their respective party newspapers, Suara Keadilan and Harakah, for three months. With three key by-elections scheduled for April 7, 2009, the ban will harm the parties’ ability to inform and rally voters. Both parties plan to go ahead with distribution of this week’s publications, which are already in print.

No official reason accompanied the ministry’s action, although in later reports Home Ministry officials said the papers were banned for publishing reports that contravened the ministry’s guidelines and permit conditions. Home Minister Datuk Sri Syed Hamid Albar said that the newspapers “were still publishing untrue stories after they were given warnings.” He also said that the stories aimed to “instill hatred for the government and leaders.”

The government may argue it is banning party papers over concern for citizens’ welfare, but this is unfair political warfare in disguise,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Malaysia’s citizens deserve better from their elected leaders.”

Despite constitutional guarantees to freedom of expression, the draconian Printing Presses and Publications Act effectively silences criticism of the Malaysian government by requiring newspapers to renew publishing licenses annually. According to the law, the minister’s discretion to grant, revoke, or suspend licenses is “absolute” and not subject to judicial review.

Suara Keadilan has faced government interference since it received its first printing permit less than a year ago, eight years after its initial application. In September 2008, the Home Ministry instructed PKR to “show cause” why its publication license should not be suspended after it reported incorrectly that Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan became paralyzed after heart surgery. In February 2009, the government attempted to limit circulation by confiscating thousands of copies from distributors and warning them against selling the newspaper. It is unclear if Suara Keadilan circulation is limited to PKR party members.

On February 11, the authorities seized copies of Harakah, in print for 22 years without suspension. On February 26, PAS received a letter from the Home Ministry that it was in violation of its permit in part because Harakah reported on non-party matters.

A third member of the opposition coalition, Parti Tindakan Demokratik (DAP), has been trying unsuccessfully to renew the license of Rocket, the party paper, since December 2008.

“Much of Malaysia’s mainstream media, with ties to Malaysia’s ruling coalition, rarely run into trouble,” said Pearson. “But online journals and other ‘new media’ that are critical of the government are easy targets for censorship.”

Human Rights Watch also expressed concern with the refusal of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the dominant party in the ruling coalition, to grant six members of the “new media,” including Malaysiakini and the Malaysian Insider, access to its annual meeting on March 24-28, 2009. An UMNO official cited their “unfriendly” reporting as the reason. The meeting is of particular importance this year as UMNO will be choosing a new leader. With the current leader, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, stepping down, the new UMNO leader will fulfill his unexpired term, which has another four years to run.

On September 12, 2008, in still another attack on a free press, police arrested Raja Petra Lamarudin, founder and editor of Malaysia Today, under the Internal Security Act, which allows for indefinite preventive detention without charge or trial (http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2008/09/12/malaysia-free-journalists-and-parliamentarian). He was accused of demeaning Islam. Although released on technical grounds, the government is appealing the decision. In a separate case, Raja Petra is on trial for sedition on the politically motivated charge of defaming a government leader.

The Malaysian government needs to allow all voices to be heard,” said Pearson. “Freedom of speech is a touchstone of a true democracy.”

Read:

UMNO’s power base – the unholy trinity

Najib starts crackdown on opposition

Umno graft worsens, faces political doom

Malaysians (including Dr Mahathir) have no confidence in Umno leaders

Zaid Ibrahim urges King to appoint some who is beyond reproach to be PM, not Najib

Umno corrupt: survey

Najib’s stimulus package comes too late, fails to impress market

MACC closes in on …. Azalina

Badawi And Najib’s Silence On Umno Youth Thuggery In Parliament Highlight Umno’s Lack Of Credible Leadership

The likes of Umno Youth thugs turning Malaysia into a banana republic

Umno duo want full investigation into Umno graft allegations including Badawi and Najib


Umno-Led Barisan Nasional On The Way DownWith The New Crop Of Uninspiring Leadership


The Unethics Of Umno – The Utter Hypocrisy Of Umno

Malaysia going to the dogs with our ethical levels does not improve

Umno’s ‘defence’ of Perak Sultan raises suspicion

Malaysians disgusted with Barisan Nasional power grab in Perak

Barisan Nasional’s NEP retards national unity, investment and economic efficiency

Only 41% think Najib will be a good prime minister

50 Umno members protest against Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s arrest of party members

Najib, ill-placed to change UMNO, a party that lives on patronage and claims to represent the core interests of majority Malay community

Umno’s humiliation at Kuala Terengganu, the beginning of the end

Umno party-ful of carpet-baggers and ne’er-do-wells still clueless to Malaysian’s rejection

Corrupt, callous and incompetent Barisan Nasional becoming more irrelevant in the new Malaysia political landscape

Barisan Nasional’s pork-barrel politics fail to win Kuala Terengganu

Umno politicians polarizing society to score political mileage

Zaid urges Malays to be wary of leaders who use the name of Malays for political mileage

Dr. Mahathir disgusted that Umno cannot control racism, says Ahmad Ismail should face disciplinary committee

Barisan Nasional government has done poorly in fulfilling Malaysia’s Independence proclamation

Umno – money politics reach worrying levels

Umno conservatives stalling reforms

Umno hegemony is under threat, Malays are not under threat

Umno is a nest of conspirators

Umno lacks intellectual capability, courage, energy to lead

Umno on the way down

Umno rife with corruption

Umno’s formula – turn everything racial

Umno’s day is over until it learns to respect Malaysian people with more dignity

Barisan’s Permatang Pauh loss was due to swearing by Saiful and Najib

Barisan’s ugly campaign in Permatang Pauh

Badawi faces calls to quit after Najib’s botched and ugly campaign in Permatang Pauh

Najib flees from angry crowd at Permatang Pauh

Advertisements
Posted in BN government, jijik, kosong, umno

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog Stats
  • 356,929 hits
Pages
March 2009
M T W T F S S
« Feb   Apr »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  
%d bloggers like this: