Reporters Without Borders wrote to Malaysia’s internal security ministry today saying its decision to maintain an import ban on all copies of the Epoch Times newspaper on diplomatic grounds was a serious press freedom violation.
The internal security ministry said on 7 July it would continue to block all copies of the Epoch Times at the Kuala Lumpur customs because the seized issues contained articles openly denigrating the Chinese government and it was necessary to safeguard relations between Malaysia and China.
Government bans import of Epoch Times
Reporters Without Borders today accused the Malaysian government of censoring the imported Chinese-language daily Epoch Times by blocking the release of all issues from customs at Kuala Lumpur airport since 2 June.
"By denying access to this newspaper, which is known for criticising the People’s Republic of China, especially on human rights issues, the Malaysian authorities are depriving the public of its right to independent information," the press freedom organisation said.
"We condemn the government’s silence about what it is doing and we demand an end to this unjustified act of censorship," the organisation added.
Produced in Surabaya (Indonesia), the Epoch Times South East Asian edition has been imported into Malaysia and distributed free of charge there since February 2004 by DZY Marketing. The newspaper’s management says it has incurred the wrath of internal security ministry officials ever since it published a special issue containing a series of critical editorials about China’s ruling Communist Party entitled the "Nine Commentaries."
Malaysia’s 1984 Printing Presses and Publications Act (which was amended in 1987) allows the internal security ministry to ban the import of newspapers, especially those "prejudicial to relations with a foreign country or government." The ministry has refused to make any comment.