Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Liberia
|Publisher||Committee to Protect Journalists|
|Publication Date||February 1997|
|Cite as||Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Liberia, February 1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c5650bc.html [accessed 30 May 2016]|
Repressive laws continued to threaten opposition journalists in Malaysia, while regional political considerations prompted the government to suppress coverage of a conference on East Timor of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Two laws that have encouraged self-censorship by Malaysian journalists are the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPA) and the Internal Security Act (ISA). Under the PPA, all domestic and foreign newspapers must obtain an annually renewable publication license, which may be withdrawn without notice or legal recourse for their reinstatement. The ISA permits the government to detain suspects for up to 60 days, for renewable periods of two years, without judicial review or filing of formal charges. Nasiruddin Ali, a director of the publishing firm Karya One, which published four magazines linked to the banned Islamic movement al-Arqam – Tatih, O.K!, Ayu, and Dunia Baru – was detained in May under Section 8 of the ISA with no indication of when he may be released, and no charges made public. Following Ali's arrest, Tamrin Ghafar, the publisher of Tatih, O.K.!, Ayu, and Dunia Baru indefinitely suspended publication of the four magazines in June.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's belief that economic development must take precedence over personal freedoms was made dramatically evident in early November. To avert souring relations with its trading partner Indonesia – which invaded East Timor in 1975 – the government closed the Asia Pacific Conference on East Timor II (APCET II) in Kuala Lumpur by variously arresting or deporting more than 100 participants. Ten journalists were among those local participants detained and charged with illegal assembly and refusing to disperse, after 200 members of the youth wing of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) stormed the conference room.
Ownership of all the major newspapers and radio and television stations is in the hands either of the government, or of leading political figures. The result is that there is little independent press and little critical coverage of government officials and government policies – although, in a dramatic departure with tradition, several mainstream publications criticized the government's handling of the APCET II conference.
Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, a likely candidate to succeed Mahathir, sounded an optimistic note for press freedom in September at the opening of a Chinese-language Malaysian newspaper, Nanyang Siang Pau. Anwar advocated a loosening of restrictions on the media and told journalists present, "We should have more confidence in our society's maturity in making objective assessments."