Malaysia suspends newspaper over ‘prejudicial’ 1MDB reports
published : 24 Jul 2015 at 16:43
writer: Bloomberg News
KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s government suspended the publishing permit of the Edge newspaper group, judging that its coverage of debt-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) threatens public order and national security, the media company said.
The Edge Weekly and the Edge Financial Daily will be barred from publishing for three months starting July 27, the company said Friday in an emailed statement. Edge will ask a court to overturn the suspension, and will continue to publish news online, CEO Ho Kay Tat said.
Multiple probes are under way into 1MDB, which was the subject of a July 3 Wall Street Journal report that said US$700 million may have moved through government agencies and state-linked firms before ending up in accounts bearing Prime Minister Najib Razak's name. Mr Najib has denied taking money for personal gain and said the allegations are political sabotage.
The Edge's coverage of 1MDB is "prejudicial or likely to be prejudicial to public order, security or likely to alarm public opinion or is likely to be prejudicial to public and national interest," the Home Ministry said in a letter to the company. The decision to suspend the permit was confirmed by Fadzlette Othman Merican, press secretary to the interior minister.
"This is nothing more than a move to shut us down in order to shut us up," Mr Ho said in the statement.
In a separate statement Friday, Mr Ho said the Edge reneged on a pledge to pay a former PetroSaudi International executive for documents related to 1MDB. The former executive was arrested in Thailand last month for allegedly extorting money and leaking information on the state investment company.
Malaysia's government last weekend blocked access to the Sarawak Report, an online news website set up by British investigative journalist Clare Rewcastle-Brown in 2010 that has also published reports on a similar money trail involving 1MDB. The site responded that the action was a "blatant attempt to censor" content related to the state investment company.
The task force probing 1MDB comprises the central bank, police, anti-corruption commission and attorney general's office.