23 April, 2007

Please write to The Star!

E mail from Wai Fong, advocacy officer, cijdirect :

Dear volunteers,

The Star newspaper has terminated the column of its more outspoken
editor, Kee Thuan Chye. His column was singled out by The Star
management after the government gave a general warning to The Star not
to overstepped its boundary.

Kee Thuan Chye's view for press freedom has been featured in an
interview published in The Sun by Jacqueline Ann Surin, another
outspoken journalist. Kee also has been speaking out publicly about the
need for press freedom in many occasion, such as in a SUHAKAM seminar
held last year.

CIJ urges volunteers to write a brief letter to The Star asking why his
column, "Playing the fool" has not appeared for two weeks. You do not
have to mention about the government warning. Please circulate this
email among your friends and urge to write too!

Please send your letter to editor@thestar.com.my

Write for freedom of expression!

Regards,

Wai Fong, advocacy officer



You can access Jacqueline Ann Surin's interview with Kee Thuan Chye here




Legal threat stifles media freedom


The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) is concerned that the chief minister of the East Malaysia state, Sarawak has threatened to sue online newsite Malaysiakini.com over its article about possible corruption by the chief minister and his family.

On April 20 Malaysiakini.com reported that it received a letter from legal firm Shearn Delamore & Co, which represents chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud. In the letter the chief minister charged that the eight articles linking the minister and his family to corruption are defamatory and demanded for their removal. Malaysiakini was also asked to publish a full public retraction and an apology.

The letter threatened legal action against Malaysiakini if it did not comply to the demands.

When contacted by CIJ, Shearn Delamore & Co confirmed that it has sent the letter demanding the removal of the articles.

Malaysiakini.com published between April 6-14 a series of articles about corrupt practices in the timber trade by the state government and businesses connected to the chief ministers' family involving a large sum of money. The articles followed an expose by a Japanese newspaper about tax evasion by several Japanese companies having business relations with Sarawakian companies.

While respecting the right of the individual to seek protection from defamation, CIJ is concerned that the high-handedness of the minister violates the public's right to know about an issue of public interest. The legal threat would have a chilling-effect on press freedom and prevent their duty to report to the public.

CIJ urges the minister to desist from suing Malaysiakini.com and counter the skepticism raised by answering to the public.

The Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia (CIJ) is a media organization that aims to improve current Malaysian journalism practice and independence through advocacy, research and analysis, training and practical work. Started in 2001, CIJ has initiated various projects in developing grassroots communications skills through training, infrastructural support and direct action.


Issued by

Sonia Randhawa
Executive Director
CIJ



Another Must Read article :

Online Freedom for All: Some cases worth supporting written by Sami Ben Gharbia via Global Voices here.




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