Media Statement, 2 January 2014
Lift the Suspension Against “The Heat” NOW
While the entire nation greets the dawn of 2014 with hopes of a good year to come and fresh resolutions to make it so, BERSIH 2.0 is appalled that the federal government is already starting on the wrong foot by suspending “The Heat” last month.
It has been close to two weeks since the Home Ministry issued the fledgling weekly a show-cause letter following its front-page story questioning the prime minister’s recent travel expenses.
This shocking suspension pending the Ministry’s response to the reply by the weekly goes to show that the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984, purportedly liberalised after an amendment in April 2012, remains as draconian as ever.
To silence media is always a reprehensible act and it does not garner well for the government when it proclaimed its aspirations to make Malaysia a world’s best democracy. This action borders on criminal for the lack of respect shown to what is a cornerstone of democracy. And no self-respecting democracy would cite technicalities to justify the drastic action of suspending a media.
BERSIH 2.0 wishes to remind the Malaysian government that international eyes are still on us eight months after a controversial general election marred with irregularities. Mass media, according to various media monitoring findings including a study by the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus and NGO Centre for Independent Journalism, performed poorly in providing accurate and balanced information to voters during the 13 General Elections.
This failure is especially true of Malay print, Media Prima and RTM television stations, and state-funded news agency, BERNAMA.
BERSIH 2.0 also notes that it is only two months since Malaysia underwent its Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council, which found us lagging behind many less developed countries in ratifying international agreements that would indicate a commitment to democratic ideals.
Therefore, punishing a vocal media will not sit well with the deliberations at the UN Security Council, a position which Malaysia is again bidding to get into.
BERSIH 2.0 supports the calls by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), like GERAMM, in urging the government to immediately lift the suspension on the weekly “The Heat”.
We urge every Malaysians to support the protest organised by GERAMM, a coalition of journalists and media activists in front of the Bar Council Building, Jalan Leboh Pasar Besar, Kuala Lumpur at 2.00 p.m. on Saturday, 4 January 2014.
Malaysians, please continue to support BERSIH 2.0’s campaign for free and fair access to the media, which is one of our eight core demands. As long as the PPPA exists, and the Home Minister continues to wield arbitrary powers to revoke publication permits, free and fair media will not be a reality.
The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0 which comprises:
Maria Chin Abdullah, Dr Farouk Musa, Masjaliza Hamzah, New Sin Yew and Farhana Halim.