1 July 2015
Explain 1MDB scandal instead of retaliating against The Edge
Lawyers for Liberty views with extreme concern the Home Ministry’s action of issuing a show cause letter to The Edge over what Putrajaya deemed to be “unverified” news that was published by the newspaper on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
This is a clear cut case of retaliation 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 is clearly an attempt to silence dissenting and critical press. 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.
All the authorities needed to do if there were such “unverified” or “distorted” news is for them to publish an explanation clarifying the issues rather than using unfair and undemocratic means of retaliation.
We also note with extreme concern that such intimidation tactics is not new, as in the recent past, The Edge, The Malaysian Insider, Malaysiakini and other independent press had also been targeted while pro government press like Utusan Malaysia has been allowed to publish freely.
The authorities must be reminded that journalism is not a crime. Press freedom is an indispensable component of any modern and democratic society as it functions as a form of check and balance against government excesses.
Such authoritarian behavior unfortunately sends a chilling message to the press to self-censor on issues such as 1MDB or else they may invite retaliation.
It goes without saying that the press must as far as possible, in line with journalism ethics, publish truthfully and accurately but that is not the same as publishing news to the satisfaction of the authorities.
We call upon the Home Ministry 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.
Lawyers for Liberty