Monday, September 21, 2015

High Court quashes decision to suspend The Edge

Hafiz Yatim 

The High Court has quashed the Home Ministry's three-months suspension order against The Edge Financial Daily and The Edge Financial Weekly.
The decision was handed down by Justice Asmabi Mohamad.
The paper was suspended by the Home Ministry for three months beginning July 27 due to allegedly undesirable articles that it published over 1MDB.
Justice Asmabi ruled the decision by the home minister to suspend the financial papers was full of illegality and irrationality, and breached the rules of natural justice.
The judge said the Home Ministry did not furnish particulars to The Edge on which articles they were referring to in the show-cause letter issued in early July, with the publication given seven days to reply.
Since the particulars were not clear, Justice Asmabi said it was difficult for the applicants to respond to the show-cause letter.
“Hence, the decision to suspend could be seen as violating the rules of natural justice,” she said, adding that the daily had published 300 articles on 1MDB since 2009.
While the Home Ministry alleges The Edge had cited sources of information deemed undesirable from portals but it (Home Ministry) also did not refer to which portals or articles it referred to or whether it came from the Sarawak Report, said the judge.
Justice Asmabi, also ruled the minister acted ultra vires to impose the ban under Section 7(1) of the Publication and Printing Presses Act 1984, as to issue a ban, it needs to be gazetted first by the minister.
She also ordered the damages suffered by The Edge to be assessed, and ordered the Home Ministry to pay costs of RM15,000 to The Edge.
'Publishing can resume tomorrow'
According to the lawyer for The Edge Communications Sdn Bhd, Raja Eileen Soraya Raja Aman, who together appeared with lead counsel Darryl Goon, the daily can resume publishing tomorrow.
Goon had submitted two weeks ago that if a ban were to be imposed under Section 7(1) of the Act, the word 1MDB had to be gazetted by the minister to be banned.
"There is no gazette of an order, directly or indirectly, against 1MDB and hence there is no breach of Section 7 (1).
"Therefore, The Edge could not have committed a breach as there was no order. Hence the suspension is unconstitutional and a violation of freedom of speech and expression under Article 10 (1) (a) of the Federal Constitution," the senior lawyer had submitted on Sept 7.
It was reported that the Home Ministry secretary-general Alwi Ibrahim, issued a statement on July 24, and said the suspensions of the publications were made after the ministry had scrutinised their reports on 1MDB and the reply to the show-cause letter issued earlier.
The ministry gave three reasons for suspending the publications, which it said, violated Section 7(1) of the PPPA.
Senior federal counsel Alice Loke said she would seek instructions from the attorney-general and the Home Ministry on whether to file an appeal.

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