Aliran hails the Court of Appeal’s decision to dismiss the Home Ministry and government’s appeal against a High Court judgment granting Malaysiakini the right to publish a print edition.
This judgment has great significance because it categorically acknowledges the right of Malaysiakini — and that of all Malaysians — to publish without any bureaucratic hindrances. This decision also nullifies the government’s erroneous contention that a publishing permit is a privilege granted at the sole discretion of the government.
In the interest of democracy and human rights, which are reportedly sliding at the moment in Malaysia, we urge the government not to appeal against this sound judgment at the Federal Court. It would only make yet another mockery of the Najib administration’s hollow claim to social transformation.
We would even assert that in an era of a modern and thriving democracy, the government is morally obliged to do away with the requirement for a publishing permit as it is tantamount to exercising censorship on freedom of expression. There are other laws, such as the Defamation Act, to deal with slanderous and malicious public expressions that could cause social disharmony and disrupt our peace.
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Indeed, a free and responsible press would go a long way in ensuring a government that would be transparent and accountable on issues such as corruption and abuse of power.
Dr Mustafa K Anuar
Hon Secretary, Aliran
30 October 2013