Malaysia Silences Free Press

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned by the actions of the Malaysian National Security Bureau, which has banned several editions and halted distribution of the popular Chinese-language Epoch Times newspaper in Malaysia.

According to reports, Bureau officers confiscated some editions of the newspaper before issuing a ban on editions #147 and #147. No official reason has been given for the ban.

“This is a blatant violation of peoples’ right to information in Malaysia,” said Christopher Warren, President of the IFJ. “Bans like this seriously interfere with the media’s ability to report and express the views of the people and should not be tolerated anywhere,” he said.

Since February 2004, the Epoch Times has been imported and distributed in Malaysia. National Security Bureau officials have been fully aware of its distribution, and repeatedly assured newspaper representatives that no permit or license is required to do so.

Although it is not immediately clear why this ban has been imposed, it is feared that Malaysian officials have succumbed to pressure applied by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The Epoch Times has long been a thorn in the side of the CCP, because of its independence and outspoken criticism of the Chinese ruling party. Several Times staff members arrested in December 2000 by Chinese officials are still believed to be in custody.

Epoch Times staff have documented the systematic harassment and interference they have experienced since the first issue was published in August 2000. However, this latest development has caused great concern, because it suggests that the CCP is succeeding in its efforts to control Chinese-language media worldwide.

“The IFJ, the global organization that represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries, including Malaysia, urges the Malaysian government to lift the ban on the Epoch Times and to take any measures necessary to ensure this newspaper continues to be distributed freely,” said Warren.

“Governments must make a stand to ensure that media freedom and peoples’ rights are protected.”

For more information please contact Christopher Warren +61 (0) 411 757 668

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries