Loyal Followers

Monday, May 18, 2009

Letter From The US Committee to Protect Journalists to the PM

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Avenue, 11th Fl., New York , NY 10001 USA

Phone: (212)465-1004

Fax: (212) 465-9568

Web: www.cpj.org

E-Mail: info@cpj.org

Walter Cronkite
CBS News
Terry Anderson
Paul E. Steiger
Joel Simon
Andrew Alexander
The Washington Post

Franz Allina
Christiane Amanpour
Dean Baquet
The New York Times
Kathleen Carroll
The Associated Press
Rajiv Chandrasekaran
The Washington Post
Sheila Coronel
Columbia University
Graduate School of Journalism
Josh Friedman
Columbia University
Graduate School of Journalism
Anne Garrels
National Public Radio
James C. Goodale
Debevoise & Plimpton
Cheryl Gould
NBC News
Charlayne Hunter-Gault
Gwen Ifill
Jane Kramer
The New Yorker
David Laventhol
Lara Logan
CBS News
David Marash
Kati Marton
Michael Massing
Geraldine Fabrikant Metz
The New York Times
Victor Navasky
The Nation
Andres Oppenheimer
The Miami Herald
Burl Osborne
The Dallas Morning News
Clarence Page

Chicago Tribune
Norman Pearlstine
Bloomberg L.P.
Dan Rather
Gene Roberts

Philip Merrill College of Journalism
University of Maryland
Sandra Mims Rowe
The Oregonian
Diane Sawyer
ABC News
David Schlesinger
Paul C. Tash

St. Petersburg Times
Mark Whitaker
NBC News
Brian Williams
NBC News
Matthew Winkler
Bloomberg News
Tom Brokaw
NBC News
Steven L. Isenberg
Anthony Lewis
Erwin Potts
John Seigenthaler
The Freedom Forum
First Amendment Center

May 14, 2009

His Excellency Najib Razak
Prime Minister of Malaysia
Office of the Prime Minister
Federal Government Administrative Centre
Putrajaya , Malaysia 62502
Via facsimile: 011-603-8888-3444

Dear Prime Minister Najib,

The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to express its longstanding concerns about Malaysia 's restricted media environment and to urge you to undertake reforms that allow for greater press freedom, both for the mainstream and fast emerging online news media.

CPJ welcomed your decision, announced during your first national address as prime minister on April 3, to remove the three-month ban imposed in March on two widely read opposition-aligned newspapers, Harakah and Suara Keadilan. Your April 6 speech to the Malaysian Press Institute, in which you acknowledged and promoted the media's role in articulating diverse political views and building democracy, also sent a positive signal of reform.

We were especially heartened to learn of your publicly stated intention to launch a comprehensive review of the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA), which has been used by previous governments to harass and sometimes imprison journalists and broadly suppress freedom of expression in the name of upholding national security.

At the same time, your government has taken repressive actions that, in our view, represent a clear danger to journalists and their ability to cover important news events. That includes this month's mass arrest of more than 80 opposition politicians, activists, and others who opposed your government's attempt to seize control of the state legislative assembly in the northern state of Perak, according to international news reports.

We were troubled to learn that journalists and press freedom advocates were among those arrested and detained, including Wong Chin Huat, a writer, academic and chairman of the Writer's Alliance for Media Independence, a prominent local press freedom group. At least two journalists, Law Tech Hao, the editor of Suara Keadilan, and Josh Hong, a political columnist at Malaysiakini, a leading online news service, were arrested on May 6 while covering a candlelight
vigil for Wong held in front of a Kuala Lumpur police station, according to the local Centre for Independent Journalism. Both reporters, the organization reported, were released without charge.

The arrest and harassment of Hong, a prominent online commentator, continues a disturbing trend of denying Internet freedom. Outgoing Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's administration, in which you served as deputy prime minister, backtracked on a prior government commitment to maintain an uncensored Internet. In the process, his government cracked down hard on high-profile bloggers, including Malaysia Today founder and prominent blogger R aja Petra Kamarudin. He was jailed
last year under the ISA for his critical online writings and now faces additional criminal defamation an sedition charges--all of which carry possible jail terms for guilty convictions.

You have vowed in your public addresses to work toward establishing "One Malaysia," a call for reform that, as you put it in your April 3 inaugural address, aims to put "people first." CPJ believes that a meaningful step in that direction would entail comprehensive changes to the many laws and policies that have long been applied to undermine press freedom in your country.

We call on you to rescind the renewable licensing system for print publications, which governments typically employ to pressure editors and journalists to soften and self-censor their news coverage. CPJ also asks that you move to abolish the ISA, Sedition Act, Official Secrets Act, and criminal defamation laws--all of which give legal precedence to notions of national security over press freedom. We also advocate that you restore Malaysia 's past commitment to a free and
open Internet.

CPJ strongly believes that your new government is uniquely placed to democratize Malaysia . Implementing new policies and amending old laws
that promote, rather than restrict, press freedom, would in our view represent genuine reform. Thank you for your attention and we await your reply.

Joel Simon
Executive Director
Information, Communications, and Culture Minister Rais Yatim
ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma
U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia James R . Keith
American Society of Newspaper Editors
Amnesty International
Article 19 (United Kingdom)
Artikel 19 (The Netherlands )
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Freedom of Expression and Democracy Unit, UNESCO
Freedom Forum
Freedom House
Human R ights Watch
Index on Censorship
International Center for Journalists
International Federation of Journalists
International PEN
International Press Institute
Karen B. Stewart, Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human
Rights, and Labor
The Newspaper Guild
The North American Broadcasters Association
Overseas Press Club

My comment:

I really hope this letter is not going to be met with the usual reply from our Government boys and girls. You know, replies such as: " please do not interfere in our domestic matters", or "you have no right to comment on our domestic matters", or "why don't you register yourself as an NGO" or "why don't you run in our election, if you dare?". Because really, such replies sound so dumb!


Anonymous said...


There is another line which was used before years ago. we could say "don't teach us if you can't beat us in football (soccer)"

Was it in the 1972 Olympic when Towkay and co. was playing? Wasn't that a great time for the country?


mei1 said...

additional: "why don't you form a political party to contest"...Ay, It's likely that they don't bother to read it at all!!

Bigcityb said...

hi have anyone heard of the follow-ups from our excellency?