STATEMENT: On the Suspension of The Edge

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STATEMENT DATED 25 July 2015 pdf
ON THE SUSPENSION OF THE EDGE

Screenshot of The Malaysian Insider's story "The Edge weekly, daily suspended for 3 months from July 27" published on 24 July 2015

Screenshot of The Malaysian Insider’s story “The Edge weekly, daily suspended for 3 months from July 27” published on 24 July 2015

 

HAKAM strongly condemns the Home Ministry’s suspension of the publishing permits of The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily for 3 months starting next Monday.

According to news sources [1] [2], the Home Ministry’s reason for this decision was because the two publications’ reporting of 1MDB were “prejudicial or likely to be prejudicial to public order, security or likely to alarm public opinion or is likely to be prejudicial to public and national interest”.

This is another blatant attempt to shut down much-needed public discourse on an issue as important as billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money being siphoned off. When the government is unwilling to answer these allegations and instead chooses to shut down the media, this only affirms the public’s suspicion of large-scale corruption.

We cannot allow the government to hide under arbitrary notions of “public order” which clearly do not apply. The Sarawak Report website was shut down a few days ago for precisely the same reason. The government should instead encourage whistleblowers and cooperate to seek the truth, not to silence them. When the government does otherwise in the face of corruption scandals, it is the government that is truly jeopardizing “public and national interest”.

Let us not forget the dark ages of Operasi Lalang during the late 1980s where reputable newspapers like The Star, Sin Chew Jit Poh and Watan were shut down for merely fulfilling their roles as the fourth estate. We cannot allow history to repeat itself in this day and age. If we allow the government to continue abusing its power, it is only a matter of time before they clamp down on individual Facebook and Twitter users.

This continuous erosion of our fundamental liberties must cease. Now more than ever, the freedom of expression (especially freedom of the press) to engender public discourse on the alleged scandal of major proportions that threatens the fundamental fabric of our country must be guarded, preserved and yes, promoted. It is every Malaysian’s guaranteed constitutional right to freedom of expression. This right to freedom of expression is crucial in our democracy – information and ideas are needed for informed political debate and are essential to public accountability and transparency in government. At a national level, this constitutionally guaranteed human right is necessary for good government and therefore for economic and social progress.

 

Ambiga Sreenevasan
President
HAKAM

 


 

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