Urging Lifting of Book Ban on G25 Book by Coalition for Freedom of Expression

The Coalition for Freedom of Expression (CFOE) urges the Home Minister to promptly lift the ban on the book “Breaking the Silence: Voices of moderation – Islam in a constitutional democracy” published by G25.The banning of the book, carried out by then-Home Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi in June 2017, was arguably unconstitutional. Any restriction on the freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 10 must be for a legitimate reason as set out in the Constitution and must be necessary, proportionate and reasonable.

The banning of this book does not fall into any of the categories that would constitute a legitimate restriction. It is inconceivable that a book of articles by distinguished former civil servants, which explores the concept of moderation in Islam in the context of Malaysia as a constitutional democracy, can be a threat to public order. Lifting the ban on this book should be straightforward and carried out promptly. The Pakatan Harapan government should not prolong or be complicit in the arbitrary silencing of critical and reasoned voices which was carried out by the previous government.The CFOE calls for the immediate lifting of the book ban and also for the Printing Presses and Publications Act, under which this ban was made, to be abolished as soon as possible, as promised by Pakatan Harapan in its election manifesto. We also call for a moratorium on the banning of any books under this Act in the meantime.

The Coalition for Freedom of Expression (CFOE) is a group of civil society organisations advocating for freedom of speech and expression in Malaysia consisting of Aliran, Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Knowledge and Rights with Young People Through Safer Spaces (KRYSS) and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram).

Malaysia: Civil society calls on new government to reform laws restricting freedom of expression and access to information

Following the Malaysian people’s decision to vote for change in general elections held on 9 May, we the undersigned civil society organisations call on the incoming government to honor the mandate it has been given by implementing a comprehensive program of reform and strengthening human rights protections in Malaysia.

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Struggling to unshackle expression and decriminalise the internet

Across Asia, the legitimate exercise of rights on the internet by individuals is increasingly branded as criminal activity. Defamation and sedition laws are the new forms of addressing inconvenient expression. As elections approach, there is a growing fear of the voice of people echoed on the internet.

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Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 22 March 2018

President Donald Trump’s “fake news” mantra has inspired authoritarian leaders elsewhere to manufacture new laws that can both target legitimate media outlets that are critical of them and further violate the media’s ability to exercise freedom of expression. The Malaysian government has thus far suspended media and blocked websites that have hounded the Prime Minister over the 1MDB affair, and I believe, has recently launched a website to counter “fake news”. Nonetheless, 1MDB is being investigated in at least six countries for money-laundering and misappropriation of funds and cannot be so easily canned as “fake news”.


National Human Rights Action Plan is Purely Cosmetic

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) is not impressed by the cosmetic touches put forward in the National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) launched by Prime Minister Najib Razak. Its biggest failure is its omission of the human rights violations of the government thus far and in so doing, fails to bring forth the urgent reform needed to improve human rights in Malaysia.

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