In light of the recent developments, as groups representing the journalistic profession, we the undersigned have collectively gathered as a coalition to condemn the Home Ministry’s decision to suspend The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily’s publishing permits for three months effective July 27.
We take the stand that there are existing legal recourses to be pursued in any dispute over reports, without resorting to an archaic law which has long been abused to clamp down on the media.
There may be ethical debates surrounding The Edge Media Group’s methods of obtaining information which led to an expose on the operations of state investment arm 1Malaysia Development Berhad, but this does not merit the government’s suspension orders.
Thus, we urge all media organisations, regardless of language or stream, to stand in solidarity against the government’s latest crackdown under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.
The government has continued to use the PPPA to crack down on press freedom despite freeing the media being part of its promise of reforms made back in 2012.
Therefore, we invite our media colleagues and also the public to support us in a series of public solidarity events as follows:
1) Solidarity gathering at The Edge’s office on Friday, July 31, 3pm.
2) For all media members to stand in solidarity by signing in during press conferences with #AtTheEdge (instead of our names) – a tagline to be used for all ongoing campaigns, including our social media outreach.
3) And a major rally on Aug 8 with the participation of the public and civil society, to be held at a yet-to-be-finalised location in Kuala Lumpur.
Aside from these immediate actions, we also reiterate the call for the government to repeal the PPA, Official Secrets Act and Sedition Act – laws which have been abused to stifle freedom of press and expression in Malaysia.
While they are used in the name of protecting national security, we view that these laws are often enforced to protect the interests of certain parties.
We are also of the opinion that the ethical debate surrounding The Edge’s exposes on 1MDB highlights the need for media to be given fair access to information.
It is time to move from a regime of Official Secrets to one of Freedom of Information, whereby information should by default be a public right.
We demand a stop to political intervention in media affairs and that media access to information that is of interest to public is not hindered either by law or process.
To the media, this is an issue that should affect us all. We are all #AtTheEdge.
What has happened to The Edge is not something new and will not be the last, unless all of us collectively speak up against such acts.
The actions of the government is also a sign that it is unable to come to terms with contemporary rights of the public to information.
Free the media.
Gerakan Media Marah (Geramm), Institute of Journalists (IoJ), Reporter Sans Frontiers (RSF), Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Foreign Correspondents Club of Malaysia