The Edge's suspension breaches press freedom, says Malaysian union

The Edge's suspension breaches press freedom, says Malaysian union
PHOTO: The Star/ANN

KUALA LUMPUR - Suspending The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily for three months is against freedom of the press, said National Union of Journalists (NUJ) secretary Schave Jerome De Rozario.

The decision was unfair because it was the responsibility of the press to report on news, he said.

When contacted, De Rozario said the media would not just publish something for "blatant gossip".

1MDB, he said, was still an ongoing issue so it was unfair to take action against the publications.

De Rozario said the NUJ was also concerned about the welfare of journalists and others affected by the three-month suspension.

"Our hearts go out to them."

However, he said the union could not do much for the journalists as none of them were NUJ members.

The Star Media Group editor-in-chief Leanne Goh said the suspension was a cause of concern at a time when there should be greater freedom of the press.

She said The Star went through a similar experience in 1987 when it was closed for five months.

"In this age of online news and social media, it's difficult to see how the suspension would be effective," she added.

Sin Chew Daily editor-in-chief Pook Ah Lek said the Home Ministry should have taken other measures to deal with the matter.

"Legal action or a civil suit could have been taken instead," he said, adding that the suspension would also affect vendors, advertisers and suppliers.

Several rights groups also questioned the suspension, with Amnesty International Malaysia claiming that there was an emerging pattern of clamping down on media freedom.

"The work of these news organisations remains at the core of the media's role in any democracy," it said in a statement.

Lawyers for Liberty said the ministry should retract the suspension and allow the public and market forces to decide whether the news coverage had been credible or other­wise.

The Centre for Independent Journalism described it as a heavy-handed measure that went against freedom of expression.

The suspension, CIJ said, would lead to more questions on the management of 1MDB.

It said it was in the interest of the public and the Government to ensure that the governance and management of 1MDB was transparent and accountable.

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