20 April, 2008

Permit for Anwar's party PKR paper approved

The Malaysian government plans to give opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's political party a permit to start its own newspaper as part of reforms to allow more press freedom, according to The Star Online.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar is promising more press freedom and one of his first acts was to approve the publishing permit for the Parti Keadilan Rakyat newspaper.

"I've just approved the (People's Justice Party) newspaper and I asked my officers 'why not.' I am open about it," he was quoted as saying.

“All political parties have their own papers. It’s their party paper. We have not cancelled the licences of any party newspaper,” he added.

Syed Hamid said he had also told his Home Ministry officials to re-look the annual licensing requirement for newspapers.

“I have told my officers that I want to have a re-look at the Printing Presses and Publications Act so that we can move with the times.

“I have asked them to look for other ways of managing the media other than issuing the annual licences,” he added.

Asked what was his view on the annual licensing, Syed Hamid said:

“I have not discussed it with the Cabinet. My view is that we should issue licences only once (upon application).

“That way, we will have the right to suspend but you don’t have to renew every year. That is one of the things I’ve been toying with.

“My argument is why should we let ourselves become unpopular by having such regulations when we had exercised the law sparingly over the years but I need to convince more (people).”

Asked about the now banned Tamil daily Makkal Osai, Syed Hamid said it was not his personal decision but one done after a lengthy observation of the way the newspaper operated.

They breached various guidelines that are stipulated in the publication permit,” he added.

CIJ "Send Emails to Save Makkal Osai!"

Dear friends,

While today's papers hailed as the step forward the Prime Minister's
speech in restoring the judiciary and bringing to a close the sacking
of Tun Salleh Abbas and other eminent judges, the fact is the
government is still in its old state! The abrupt banning of Tamil
Makkal Osai proves the high-handed, non-transparent and
non-consultative manner in the administration is yet to be cracked!

Let's all of us send an email to Syed Hamid Albar, the new minister of
home affairs urging him to lift the ban on Makkal Osai and explain on
what basis it breached the guidelines. Stop him from his total
discretionary power over press freedom and the people's right to

You can send an email with just the following subject line to the
Minister's PA (Intan) and CC to us so we can follow up.

"Explain why you denied the permit and lift the ban on Makkal Osai"

To: intan@moha.gov.my
CC: gayathry@cijmalaysia.org

Your email can do a lot for the cause of press freedom.


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