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Let us not slide down the ever-more chilly and slippery slope of press censorship when we should be promoting greater media freedom


Media Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang  

, Wednesday): The New Straits Times has been given three days to show cause by the Internal Security Ministry why action should not be taken against it for publishing a  Non-Sequitur cartoon by Wiley Miller which could invite negative reactions in the country, especially among Muslims, for mocking Prophet Muhammad.

In a plural society like Malaysia, there is no gainsaying that the media must be  sensitive to the different  religions and communities in the country.  It is for this reason that I had deplored the dozen insensitive and offensive Danish cartoons of Prophet Mohammad which tragically  had led to senseless and continuing violence and loss of lives in some parts of the world.


Those ranged on the opposite sides of the controversy  as to whether New Straits Times should be punished for the Non-Sequitur cartoon are agreed that Wiley’s sketch does not belong to the category of the Danish cartoons.  In fact, many Malaysians do not regard the cartoon as targeting Prophet Muhammad.


There is however another issue which seems to have become inextricably intertwined with the NST controversy – that if Sarawak Tribune and Guang Ming Daily had been punished, the former with indefinite suspension and the latter a two-week suspension of its night edition for their publication of the Danish cartoons (or a picture of people looking at the cartoons in the case of Guang Ming),  the government will be guilty of double-standards if UMNO-owned  New Straits Times is allowed to get away scot-free.


The anguish that the government should not continue to be guilty of double-standards is valid and legitimate, but three wrongs do not make a right.  I have said that the indefinite suspension of Sarawak Tribune and the two-week suspension of the night edition of Guang Ming are excessive and disproportionate to the mistakes they had committed, and both suspensions of Sarawak Tribune and Guang Ming should be lifted to allow for fuller examination of the issues concerned not just by the government alone, but in collaboration with mass media representatives, political parties and the civil society.


Let us not slide down the ever-more chilly and slippery slope of press censorship when we should be promoting greater media freedom.


Non Sequitur is a comic strip created by Wiley Miller in 1991 and syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate to over 700 newspapers.  It is also available online. 

Will Malaysia be the first country to take objection to  this Non Sequitur cartoon?  


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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