The Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi said that the reason for the slashing of the PAS biweekly publication into a bimonthly publication was to standardise the publication of all political parties’ newspapers and magazines.
He said the standardisation of publication period would give a fair opportunity to other political parties.
Abdullah claimed that this is not an "extraordinary" or "political" decision. He said UMNO would also publish its newsletter twice a month.
Right-thinking Malaysians are both shocked by the latest encroachment on an already very limited free press and free speech in Malaysia as well as the ham-fisted manner to justify such a gross violation of human rights.
All the talk, whether by the Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister, about excellence, merit and competition so that Malaysia can be at the cutting edge of the new information society sound empty or very superficial when Abdullah can trundle out the argument of "standardisation" to justify the slashing of Harakah from a biweekly into a bimonthly.
If Abdullah is serious about his argument of "standardisation", then he is in fact suggesting that Malaysia must move, act or progress at the pace of the slowest or laziest citizen or organisation!
Why should Harakah be slashed from a biweekly to a bimonthly just because UMNO’s party organ, Merdeka, is not committed, professional or competent enough to come out as a biweekly and can only come out as a bimonthly?
Is Abdullah’s distinctive vision for the country to promote a Standardised Malaysia whether in human rights, democratic freedoms or cultural practices? This will be a very dull and boring Malaysia indeed!
The Home Ministry’s decision to slash Harakah from a biweekly into a
bimonthly has five serious far-reaching implications:
Whether UMNO’s Merdeka is going to be a bimonthly or biweekly is totally irrelevant to the rights of others to fully enjoy free press and free speech, subject to the laws of the land. Abdullah should realise that he is flying the white flag of surrender to PAS to win the hearts and minds of the Malay heartland by slashing Harakah from a biweekly to a bimonthly.
Abdullah should sent out a loud and clear message that he would not impose new fetters on human rights and democratic freedoms as Home Minister and that UMNO has the confidence to take on PAS in an open and democratic battle for the hearts and minds of the Malay heartland by restoring Harakah’s biweekly licence, remove the restriction on its circulation to members only and approve PAS’ application for Purnama as a daily newspaper.