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I call upon the Prime Minister and the Cabinet to immediately lift the suspension of Harakah and Suara Keadilan, as it is a blatant disregard for press freedom in the country.

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is still the Prime Minister and he is the one who talks a lot about reform. For his information, curbing press freedom is definitely against any kind of reforms.

Is it not enough for the mainstream media under the control of UMNO to block coverage of Pakatan Rakyat, that now the government wants to silence the Pakatan Rakyat’s limited circulation newspapers?

The timing of the suspension just ahead of the UMNO general assembly and crucial by-elections in various parts of the nation suggests a political motive behind the suspension of the permits.

This abuse of power for political ends is exactly the kind of highhandedness that the Rakyat voted against in the 2008 general elections. In a democracy, the people are entitled to freedom of information to enable them to make informed choices and decisions.

In the internet age, any attempt to hide or censor information is a futile exercise and will only cause more suspicion and outrage amongst the people. It appears that the government is moving towards more secrecy and control of information than transparency and freedom of information.

The publications permit of the DAP’s Mandarin edition of the Rocket which expired last year has still not been renewed. I call upon the minister concerned to immediately cause the renewal of the permit as his actions directly contravene press freedom.

Such action on the part of the government will ensure that Malaysia remains very poorly rated in terms of press freedom. In 2008, Malaysia was ranked a lowly 132 out of 173 nations globally in the Reporters Sans Frontiers’ Press Freedom Index.

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