The principal assistant secretary of the publications control division, Tengku Mahmood Tengku Ismail, said two issues were raised at his meeting with PAS officials yesterday.
The first was the public sale of Harakah, while the second was the scope and content of the newspaper which "should only focus on news related to the party, such as its activities, programmes and seminars and should not deviate from the original purpose of the publication".
This is most preposterous and undemocratic. It must be the world’s first where a party organ cannot publish the ideology, principles, views, opinions and arguments of the party leaders and its members but must confine itself to a diary of party activities.
The new attempt to curtail an already very-limited press freedom in Malaysia must be viewed with alarm by all Malaysians who want the country to move towards the development of a civil society.
It is most shocking that instead of being far-sighted to remove the fetters on press freedom in Malaysia, which would have saved the country from the worst disasters of the recent twin currency and stock market crisis, the government is thinking of new-fangled ways to banish dissent and alterrnative views from our society - as demanding that political party organs should not publish the political views of party leaders and members, after banning the party organs from public sale and circulation.
This raises the question whether Malaysia is entering into a new period repression rather than greater democratisation.
I call on Government to demonstrate that its advocacy of "Asian Values" and the review of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not signal the further denial and erosion of fundamental political and civil liberties of Malaysians.