Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cameron must press Putrajaya to stop crackdown on dissent, say groups

Published: 30 July 2015 9:08 AM
British Prime Minister David Cameron will be arriving today. – Reuters file pic, July 30, 2015.

British Prime Minister David Cameron will be arriving today. – Reuters file pic, July 30, 2015.
British Prime Minister David Cameron must press Putrajaya to immediately lift its censorship of independent media and end the ongoing crackdown on dissent, said an international human rights group.
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), together with its Malaysian affiliate Suaram, said Cameron must tell Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak that such restrictions were unacceptable for a country that aspired to be democratic.
“Cameron must tell his Malaysian counterpart Najib that restrictions on freedom of information are unacceptable for a country that aspires to be rights-respecting democracy and an attractive destination for foreign investors,” said FIDH president Karim Lahidji.
Cameron is arriving in Kuala Lumpur for a one-day visit today as part of his Southeast Asia tour.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on July 19  blocked access to whistleblower site Sarawak Report which had published numerous reports detailing allegations of fraud, mismanagement, and misappropriation of funds on state owned investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Earlier this month, the WSJ and whistleblower website Sarawak Report made the revelation that up to US$700 million (RM2.67 billion) was allegedly transferred from state-owned funds to two bank accounts under Najib's name with AmBank in early 2013.
The prime minister, however, has denied ever taking any funds from 1MDB for "personal gain" but has not commented directly on the fund transfers. His accounts that allegedly received the funds have since been closed.
Following this, a task force was formed to investigate 1MDB as well as the WSJ's report that billions of ringgit was transferred from other companies linked to the fund to Najib's personal accounts.
After the block on Sarawak Report, The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily business publications were suspended for three months from Monday due to its intensive coverage of 1MDB, which the home ministry noted was “prejudicial to public order, security or likely to alarm public opinion.”
Both groups also noted that the authorities "targeted" individuals who were critical of 1MDB, with DAP's Petaling Jaya Utara federal lawmaker Tony Pua barred by the Immigration Department from leaving Malaysia on July 22.
Police also said they were investigating Pua, PKR's Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli and The Edge Media Group owner Datuk Tong Kooi Ong under Article 124 of the Penal Code for activities deemed "detrimental to parliamentary democracy.”
“Media coverage and individual opinions about the 1MDB affair have served as a major irritant with Najib’s administration. If the government has nothing to hide, it should promote transparency instead of launching relentless attacks on the Malaysian people’s right to be informed about this important issue,” said Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy. – July 30, 2015.
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