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Malaysia urged to lift suspension of "The Edge" newspaper immediately

This statement was originally published on CIJ's Facebook page on 24 July 2015.

The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) condemns the three-month suspension of The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily's publishing permits by the Home Ministry. According to a news report, the Home Ministry stated that the newspapers reporting on 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Berhad) were "prejudicial or likely to be prejudicial to public order, security or likely to alarm public opinion." It also stated that the reporting on 1MDB was "likely to be prejudicial to public and national interest." For the government to censor a newspaper in this manner is an extremely heavy-handed measure and a breach of freedom of expression and media freedom in particular. To justify such a serious and extreme measure, it is wholly insufficient for the Home Ministry to merely make sweeping, general claims about prejudice to public order, security or alarm. It must specify exactly how The Edge's reporting on 1MDB would jeopardise public order or security.

For now, it appears that The Edge has revealed information about alleged fraud involving billions of ringgit in a government-owned investment corporation. Contrary to what the Home Ministry is alleging, it appears that The Edge has acted in the public and national interest by bringing these allegations to light. It is presumably in this vein that a special task force has been set up to investigate the veracity of these claims. For the government to muzzle The Edge under these circumstances only leads to more questions on the management of 1MDB. It is in fact in the public and government's interest for the governance and management of 1MDB to be transparent and accountable. This is essential in rebuilding national and international confidence in the state's ability to manage our finances. To act heavy-handedly against critics with vague justifications will have the opposite effect.

CIJ calls on the Home Minister to lift the suspension against The Edge newspapers immediately and to respect media freedom and freedom of expression.

Sonia Randhawa and Jac Kee

What other IFEX members are saying
  • Malaysian media #attheedge with three month ban

    Following the suspension, The Edge Group said they would apply for a judicial review of the suspension, and would not retract any of its reporting. Ho Kay Tat the publisher and Group CEO of The Edge Group also said that they would continue reporting on the 1MDB, as there was still so much to report on.

  • Dogged by fraud allegations, Malaysia targets media

    Investigative reporting on alleged mismanagement of a Malaysian state investment fund has triggered a backlash against muckraking media . . . The Wall Street Journal - which reported on July 2, citing documents from a government investigation, that US$700 million of the 1MDB fund's cash had ended up in Najib's personal bank accounts - may be next in the legal firing line. Najib's personal lawyers sent a letter to the newspaper on July 8 seeking clarification on whether its report and a follow-up op-ed implied that the premier had misappropriated funds.

  • Guarantee free flow of information on 1MDB controversy

    SEAPA believes that such exposés that report about fraud and embezzlement are in the public interest and essential to the duty of the news media to society. Instead of being suppressed, these acts should be encouraged, as it contributes toward clean, accountable government, and participation of the citizenry in public affairs. The actions of the Malaysian government contributes to a growing regional trend also seen in Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand in suppressing critical media means of lawsuits and broad regulatory powers. Suppressive action by authorities from these countries point to attempts to put the media under political control and prevent criticism of those in power.

  • Malaysia: Crackdown on independent voices must end

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