Union of Journalists Condemns MOHA’s Move to Suspend The Heat

KUALA LUMPUR, 20 Dec: The National Union of Journalists, Malaysia (NUJ) has condemned the Ministry of Home Affair’s (MOHA) move to suspend The Heat, a weekly newspaper.

The President of NUJ, Chin Sung Chew, said that this was not supposed to a media which was only carrying out its duties to the nation.

“The media is the Fourth Estate and we have a responsibility to update the public, especially if there is any abuse or wrongdoing by the Government.

“The public are entitled to know what is going on in the Government and we, as the media, are merely upholding our responsibility of informing the people,” he said in an SMS message to Malaysia Kini.


Ching also said that the suspension by Najib’s administration is unwise.

“With the Press Freedom Index ranking of 145 in 2013, as reported by Reporters Without Borders, it is not wise for the government to take such an action upon the media,” he said.

The NUJ comprises of about 1,500 journalists from various print media in Peninsular Malaysia, making it the largest gathering of media personnel in the country.

Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Masjalizah Hamzah, described the suspension of The Heat as proof that the administration led by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak was not serious about reforms to freedom of expression.

The Heat is a new weekly. It’s still trying to make its mark. In that sense, the suspension won’t have an immediate impact on the public. People won’t feel it.

“But people who advocate for media freedom and the journalists will feel it. If it can happen to The Heat, it can happen to others, except perhaps Utusan Malaysia,

Another important result of the suspension, according to Masjalizah, is that the suspension shows how little change resulted from the amendments to the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA).

The law was amended to allow newspaper owners to challenge the home minister’s decision on the withdrawal of licences and removed the need to renew licences annually.

The Heat can mount a legal challenge, which could take months.


“By then, the damage is already done, in terms of loss of jobs and revenue. At the end of the day, the government is still in control,” said Masjalizah, a former journalist-turned-activist.

She said that the right way forward, if the government was really serious about media freedom, was nothing short of repealing the PPPA.

“The government has shown that it exercises its powers on the media selectively. It is not about the recipe of the article concerned – whether it is fair and facts-based – but it is a political choice.

“There are many articles by Utusan Malaysia that does not fulfil those conditions, but yet they are allowed free reign,” she said.

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