Malaysian authorities have suspended publishing permits for multiple local newspapers after they published investigative reports that involved graft at a state-owned company. The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily have been suspended by authorities with Malaysia's Home Ministry for three months.
The government body issued a notice Thursday announcing the suspension on the grounds that the financial corruption reported in the publications regarding government-owned economic development company 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was a threat to “public order,” the AFP reported. 1MDB’s advisory board was chaired by Prime Minister Najib Razak and reportedly had debts of more than $11 billion and was under investigation by Malaysian authorities, the Straits Times reported.
“We don’t see how exposing the scam to cheat the people of Malaysia of billions of ringgit can be construed as being detrimental to public and national interest,” CEO and publisher of Edge Media Group, Ho Kay Tat said in response to the suspension. “This is nothing more than a move to shut us down in order to shut us up.”
— dwnews (@dwnews) July 22, 2015
The Edge Media Group publication has been following allegations of mismanagement and corruption within 1MDB for the past three months. The investigative reports were picked up by several international publications, prompting the Malaysian government to order the censorship of the U.K.-based website Sarawak Report, which had also written multiple stories on the troubled company.
“To our advertisers, we hope you will continue to support us through our digital platforms now that the print will not be available for three months,” Ho said, according to the Straits Times. Ho added that The Edge would try and overturn its publishing permit suspension and insists that the publication’s digital sites will continue to operate and report on the story.
Local journalism advocate groups, like the Malaysia-based non-profit Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ), have also chimed in and condemned the censorship being imposed by the Malaysian government.
“For the government to censor a newspaper in this manner is an extremely heavy-handed measure and a breach of freedom of expression and media freedom in particular,” the group said in a statement on its Facebook page.