DAP calls on the National Union of Journalists,  Malaysian journalists and mass media to speak up  for the immediate release of jailed Canadian journalist Murray Hiebert or it will be a dark chapter in Malaysian journalism


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
 

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): The Paris-based World Association of Newspapers (WAN), which represents 17,000 newspapers world-wide, has  urged the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr.  Mahathir Mohamad to release jailed  Canadian journalist, Murray Hiebert, 50, who is the first journalist in Malaysia and the first journalist in the Commonwealth in 50 years to be imprisoned  for contempt of court.

WAN President, Bengt Braun said in a statement: "The imprisonment of Mr. Hiebert is a clear breach of his fundamental right to freedom of expression which is guaranteed by numerous international conventions.

"Furthermore, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights considers that detention, as punishment for the peaceful expression of an opinion, is one of the most reprehensible ways to enjoin silence and as a consequence, is a grave violation of human rights."

DAP had been the first to call for the  pardon and immediate release of Murray Hiebert  because  this is the right and proper thing to do to promote fundamental liberties like freedom of expression and a free press in Malaysia and safeguard Malaysiaís international reputation as a civil society worthy of respect and emulation.

Malaysia must fully support the position that  putting a journalist in jail for doing his job undermines the press freedoms that play such a critical role in building a democratic society.

For this reason, I call on the National Union of Journalists, Malaysian journalists and mass media to support  the increasing calls, whether  by WAN, the New-York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres and other international press organisations  for Hiebertís  immediate release.

It is time Malaysian journalists speak up for the immediate release of Hiebert, or it will also be a dark chapter for   Malaysian journalism.

At a time when more and more  international  press/journalist organisations are concerned about Hiebertís imprisonment, Malaysian journalists and mass media must search their soul and conscience whether they want to go down in history as supporting the imprisonment of the first journalist in the Commonwealth in 50 years by their silent consent and approval.

In this connection, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi should explain why Hiebert had been transferred from the Sungai Buloh Prison to Seremban Prison for the past week, as such a transfer is most unusual.

(28/9/99)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong