by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Thursday, 23rd June 1994:
DAP calls for the restoration of the publishing licence of Tamil biweekly Thoothan which was banned on Tuesday
DAP deplores the banning of Tamil biweekly Thoothan by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday without giving any reasons.
The ban may be a victory for MIC and in particular for MIC President Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, but it is a setback for press freedom, human rights and democracy in Malaysia.
It is well-known that Thoothan had been a ‘thorn in the flesh’ of the MIC President and Minister for Energy, Telecommunications and Posts, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, as Thoothan had carried extensive coverage of Samy Vellu’s involvement in the MAIKA Telekom shares hijacking scandal.
In fact, the editor of Thoothan, P. Veerasamy Tamilmani, had launched a personal crusade to defend the rights of the 60,000 MAIKA shareholders who had been deprived of their legitimate shares in the proceeds of nine million Telekom shares worth RM220 million at its heigh this year as a result of the MAIKA Telekom shares hijacking scandal. Tamilmani also held a personal hunger strike last year in protest against the MAIKA Telekom shares hijacking scandal.
Samy Vellu had been known to want the Thoothan biweekly banned but the freedom of expression and a free press in Malaysia cannot be sacrificed just to provide the MIC President the immunity from criticism and fair comment of his activities.
If Samy Vellu believes that he had been libelled by Thoothan, he has legal remedy to resort to the courts. It is most undemocratic and unacceptable for Samy Vellu to prevail on the Home Ministry to revoke the publishing licence of Thoothan.
The banning of Thoothan is a reminder as to why undemocratic laws .like the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Internal Security Act, the Official Secrets Act, the Sedition Act and the Police Act cannot be allowed to remain on the statute books.
This is because the repressive provisions could be invoked any time to deny Malaysians their fundamental rights entrenched in the Malaysian Constitutios – just to serve petty personal or political party interests.
DAP calls on the Home Ministry to immediately restore the publishing licence of Thoothan – or this will be another example of the lack of democracy and violation of human rights in Malaysia.