The MCA takeover, through Huaren Holdings Bhd, is the greatest threat to press freedom in the new century and after the last general election and is clearly part of a larger political gameplan to stifle dissent and save the crumbling political power structures of the Barisan Nasional and its component parties.
This will mark the second Dark Age ushered in by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in his 20 years at the helm of the government. In the first Dark Age, Mahathir launched the Operation Lalang mass arrests under the Internal Security Act (ISA) where 100 Opposition leaders, Chinese educationists, social activists and trade unionists were detained and three newspapers were banned - Sin Chew Jit Poh, Star and Watan.
In the Second Dark Age-in-the-making, we have already seen the use of the infamous ISA against ten reformasi activists. The MCA takeover of the Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press, and the impending legislation to violate the Multimedia Super Corridor guarantee of no internet censorship to deal with Internet publications and websites like Malaysiakini, are among the important elements of the Second Dark Age in Malaysia.
After Mahathirís speech in Parliament on the Third Outline Perspective Plan in early April, where he declared that the government was ready to break from "so-called international norms" on human rights and democracy, I had asked whether this presaged a plunge of the country into another Dark Age.
The question has proven to be quite prescient.