The Home Ministry’s decision to censor the latest edition of “The Economist” by blacking out parts of an article with black ink reeks of a knee-jerk reaction that does the country’s image more harm than good. The authorities should know that doing so will only invite adverse publicity to the country, at a time when we are battling bad press in the international media following the Bersih 2.0 rally.
The Ministry of Home Affairs should realise that overzealous censorship is counterproductive and can be perceived as an infringement of the freedom of expression and media interference. In the aftermath of Bersih 2.0, the authorities ought to have wisen up to the fact that overreaction on their part can fuel public anger towards the government. This can sway public sympathy to causes by organisations like the Opposition-backed Bersih 2.0.
A more sensible reaction to the article in “The Economist” would be to rebut the allegations the police deemed misleading or untrue with their own facts and figures. A complaint could also be lodged against the magazine.
Blacking out parts of the article at a time when the piece can be read in its entirety online would only stir the curiosity of those who normally do not read the weekly news magazine. This would only result in more people learning about the contents in the article then it otherwise would have – in the process defeating the Ministry’s purpose of censoring the article in the first place. All this will only make Malaysia an international laughing stock.
Senator Gan Ping Sieu
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