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‘Lift suspension of The Heat’

 | January 4, 2014

Online news personnel holding red pencils as a symbol of press freedom also called for an investigation into police brutality against journalists.

KUALA LUMPUR: Around 100 media practitioners today took to the streets to demand for the The Heat’s suspension to be revoked.

The protest which was organised by Gerakan Media Marah (Geramm), a coalition of online news agencies, also demanded that the government uphold press freedom and abolish the need for publication permits under the Printing Press and Publications Act (PPPA).

The “Red Pencil” protest held in front of the Bar Council also called for an investigation on  police brutality against journalists during Bersih 3.0 in 2012.

Protesters who wore red, later marched to the nearby clock tower, where prominent figures including Malaysiakini editor Fathi Aris Omar gave speeches.

Those present at the protest also included, PKR communication director Fahmi Fadzil, PKR human rights and legal bureau deputy chairman S Jayathas, PSM treasurer A Sivarajan and social activist Marina Mahathir.

Police presence was minimal with about five police officers standing nearby. No arrests were made.

The Bar Council sent six of its members, led by lawyer Roger Chan Weng Keng to observe the protest.

Selangor deputy speaker Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said he was there to support the cause in solidarity with the journalists.

“The licensing laws in PPPA is redundant. Online press are operating without the act so why oppress offline (print) media?” he said.

Former Bersih co-chairperson S Ambiga said the media practitioners present were championing journalists rights’ across the board.

“Licensing is against freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

“This is us, the voice of the people. You can lock us up but you cannot stop us voicing out, we won’t remain silent,” she said.

Eight demands

After the declaration of Geramm’s eight demands for press freedom, Fathi led the group of media personnel to break red pencils, a symbol of their anger against the suspension of The Heat and the restrictions imposed by the PPPA.

The group then marched towards Jalan Tun Perak with chants of ‘free the press’ and received honks of support by motorists.

The group stopped in front of the Masjid Jamek LRT station  Batu MP Tian Chua, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang and Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, were present.

Malaysiakini journalist Radzi Razak who was victim of police brutality during 2012’s Bersih rally spoke on how being a journalist is not for the weak-hearted.

“The incident was an eye opener, it made me realise that being a journalist is tough,” he said.

Before ending the protest, Fathi again urged the government to revoke the suspension on The Heat within 24 hours.

DAP’s Lim also expressed hope for immediate action to revoke the suspension.

“How can Malaysia be the best democracy in the world if such things happen. The government knows best era has passed.

“It should instead do all that is necessary to revoke The Heat’s suspension,” he later told reporters.

The Heat was suspended by the Home Ministry for violating provisions under its printing permit and denied claims that the suspension was related to the weekly’s report on Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor.

The weekly, which was launched in September, was suspended after getting a second show-cause letter from the ministry.


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