Home Minister reminded journalism is not a crime

Paulsen: Retract show cause letter to The Edge

Lawyers for Liberty remind Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that journalism is not a crime.

KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) have urged the authorities to publish an explanation and clarify the issues if there was “unverified” or “distorted” news in the media. “It’s not the done thing to use unfair and undemocratic means of retaliation against the media.”

The authorities must be reminded that journalism is not a crime, said LFL Executive Director Eric Paulsen. “Press freedom was an indispensable component of any modern and democratic society as it functions as a form of check and balance against government excesses.”

LFL was expressing extreme concern that the Home Ministry had issued a show cause letter to The Edge over what Putrajaya deemed to be “unverified” news that was published by the publication on the RM42 billion 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

LFL called upon Home Minster Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to immediately retract the show cause letter and let the public and market forces decide on whether The Edge’s coverage on the 1MDB scandal had been credible or otherwise. “Such authoritarian behaviour unfortunately sends a chilling message to the press to self-censor on issues such as 1MDB or else they may invite retaliation.”

The show cause letter was a clear cut case of retaliation, lamented Paulsen, as The Edge has been highly critical of the 1MDB scandal and instrumental in maintaining coverage on the billions lost, missing or unaccounted for.

“The show cause letter against The Edge was clearly an attempt to silence dissenting and critical press,” he said. “It is preposterous for the Home Ministry to suggest that action can be taken against the press if they were to publish ‘unverified’ or ‘distorted’ news.”

Paulsen: Retract show cause letter to The Edge
July 2, 2015 – FMT


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