by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, on Friday, 8th May 1981:
Call on Home Affairs Minister, Tan Sri Ghazalie Shafie, to explain why Far Eastern Economic Review magazines are being held up for about three weeks before release?
The April 17-23 issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review was released by the Minister of Home Affairs yesterday, 20 days after being held up by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Ministry of Home Affairs clearly owe the Far Eastern Economic Review readers and the Malaysian public an explanation why the April 17-23 issue was held up for so long, as it clearly does not require 20 days for the Home Affairs Ministry censors to read the articles relating to Malaysia in the magazine.
The current May 1-6 issue, of Far Eastern Economic Review which would normally appear on the news- stands last Friday is still being held by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Coming close in the wake of public outcry against the amendments to the Societies Act and the Federal Constitution which concentrate such absolute powers in the hands of the Government, and virtually writing off the fundamental liberties of freedom of speech, assembly and association, which were reported in the local and foreign press and magazines, the Ministry of Home Affairs action in holding up the release of the Far Eastern Economic Review could only be construted as attempt by Ministry of Home Affairs to ‘soften up’ the press and newsmagazine reports about Malaysia.
If government powers of regulating the inflow of foreign publications could be abused in this fashion, just to satisfy the whims and fancies of those in authority who wanted to demonstrate their powers, I shudder to think what abuses would take place in future with regard to the democratic rights and freedoms of the people because the recent amendments to the Societies Act and the Malaysian Constitution have vested the Executive with virtually absolute powers over the citizens, making the Executive even more powerful than the Legislature, and unchallengeable in the Courts of Law.
The Ministry of Home Affairs should explain the recent actions in holding up the Far Eastern Economic Review, if it is to convince Malaysians that we are not to see the beginning of a new display of abuses and excess es of power by the Executive.