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Banning The Night Edition Of China Press Is Too Harsh A Punishment For A Mistake And Contrary To The Prime Ministerís Assurances Of Press Freedom And Wanting  Malaysians Being Free To Express Their Opinions.



Media Statement
by Lim Guan Eng

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): The Internal Security Ministryís proposed banning of the night edition of China Press as revealed by the New Straits Times today, is too harsh a punishment for a mistake that China Press allegedly made when it was the first paper that broke the story of the nude woman doing ear squat and wrongly identified the woman in the video clip as a Chinese national. Such a ban would also be contrary to the Prime Ministerís assurances of press freedom and wanting Malaysians to be free to express their opinions as he does not want a yes-man culture.

The New Straits Times had reported on 2.1.2006 that a show-cause letter was submitted to the publisher of the newspaper, which has the second-highest circulation among Chinese language dailies. DAP takes the position that if any mistake was made in good faith an apology should be sufficient. If China Press did actually make such a mistake, why canít China Press apologise to the Internal Security Ministry and not have its night edition permit withdrawn?

After all, Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Noh Omar escaped with a mere apology for asking foreign tourists to go back home if they think the police is cruel. Noh Omar was not sacked even though he was openly reprimanded by the Prime Minister for such an insensitive statement that would affect tourist arrivals in Malaysia.  It is also inappropriate for action to be taken before the independent commission of inquiry, set up to investigate the nude squat affair, has published its findings on the controversy on January 15 2006.

If Noh Omar is allowed to escape unpunished with a mere apology but not China Press then the government would be seen to be practicing double-standards. DAP hopes that Prime Minister can reconsider such action against China Press as reported by the New Straits Times as it would have a chilling effect of press freedom and promotion of accountability. Such action would also raise doubts on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawiís assurances that even though BN has a 92% majority in Parliament, he accepts different views and Malaysians are free to express their opinions. 

Abolish The Automatic Annual Renewal Of Publishing Permits Of Newspapers, Sedition Act And Printing Presses & Publications Act 1984 .

How can Malaysians have the right to freely express their opinions and allow different view to be accepted when the Sedition Act can be used against anyone even though he speaks the truth or he doe not have the intention; or the Printing Presses and Publications Act requires all print media to obtain a permit and renew it annually from the Home Affairs Ministry?  The Sedition Act is a breach of freedom of expression in that whilst there is freedom of speech, there is no freedom after speech.

The Printing Presses & Publications Act goes one step further by limiting freedom of speech where government regulation of printing permits and licences prevent different views from being published out of fear of offending the government. DAP calls for the abolition of annual renewal of publishing permits, the Printing Presses & Publications Act and the Sedition Act to promote press freedom and democracy in Malaysia.


* Lim Guan Eng,  DAP Secretary General

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