TMI ban to ensure ‘information blackout’ on 1MDB?

The ban will however not stop speculation about Najib Razak and 1MDB, and neither will it convince the people the RM2.6 billion was a donation from Saudi royalties.

It’s an unscrupulous move by the Malaysian government. And banning The Malaysian Insider on grounds of national security without giving any concrete explanation, is ridiculous.

Everyone is guessing that the clampdown may very well be because of an article quoting a source, saying that the Operations Review Panel of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has recommended proceeding with charges against Prime Minister Najib Razak for the billions of ringgit that was transferred into his private bank accounts and the dizzyingly complex financial transactions involving the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) sovereign fund that amassed billions in losses.

The news article must have left the Malaysian government desperate to clean-up Najib’s image.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has also warned other media against publishing “unverified reports.”

An outright ban is a blatant disregard of freedom of media in the country. The online portal could have been warned or charged in court if at all its reporting was unverified, inaccurate or plain wrong.

Recently, a string of arrests, charges and investigations under the Sedition Act were used by the Umno-led Barisan Nasional government to stifle dissent from media practitioners, rights activists and Opposition politicians.

And other harsh criminal defamation laws plus preventive laws are regularly used to impose restrictions on the press and other critics of the government.

However, arbitrarily banning the media will not stop speculation about Najib and 1MDB. And neither will it convince the people to accept his explanation that the 2.6 billion ringgit was a donation from Saudi royalties.

Press freedom and good governance are not mutually exclusive. They support each other while promoting a country’s economic development, human development and transparent government.

Therefore using the MCMC as a political tool to clamp down on freedom of the media and create fear are totally unacceptable.

As such I demand that the ban against The Malaysian Insider be lifted immediately.

TMI ban to ensure ‘information blackout’ on 1MDB?
Charles Santiago
February 26, 2016 – FMT


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