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Malaysian Government Halts the Flow of Free Speech
The Epoch Times confiscated, banned from country
Tim McDevitt

NEW YORK—Representatives from The Epoch Times gathered in front of the Malaysian Consulate General’s office on East 43rd street Friday afternoon to ask one question: Why are you are confiscating our newspapers?

The Epoch Times has a permit to distribute the newspaper in Malaysia valid through December 31st of this year. The weekly Chinese-language newspaper is printed in Indonesia and shipped by air to Malaysia. The Malaysian Office of the Ministry of the Interior confiscated the newspapers on June 2 and 17, and issued a ban on issues dated July 14, 21, and 28.

In an interview with an Epoch Times correspondent, Higher Assistant Secretary Abdullah Bin Che Mat and Private Assistant of the Deputy Minister of Internal Security Khoo Khee Shin confirmed that the decision to ban the paper came directly from Deputy Minister of Internal Security Y. B. Chia Kwang Chye.

In a July 7 letter to The Epoch Times, the Malaysian Interior Ministry attempted to justify the ban with allegations that the newspaper “is not neutral and reports news that may result in a negative impression on the ruling government of China. It is clear that the newspaper is against the policy of the Malaysian government to maintain the bilateral relationship between Malaysia-China.”

The Epoch Times is printed in 8 languages and distributed in approximately 30 countries around the world, and the Chinese-language edition has become an influential voice in the Chinese-language media world. The most widely distributed Chinese-language newspaper in the world, The Epoch Times reports the news free of any influence from the Beijing government. It’s rarity as an independent Chinese-language newspaper has exerted an overwhelming influence over other Chinese-language media worldwide.

The Epoch Times’ stance as an independent media since its inception in late 2000, has always drawn the ire of Beijing’s ruling government, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Of the four original Epoch Times reporters inside Mainland China who were arrested in December, 2000, two were tortured to death by the government and two are remain captive in prison. The CCP’s harassment and interference since the first issue of The Epoch Times was published in August 2000 has been well documented.

Unresponsive to Appeal

During an informal meeting with the press secretary to the Malaysian UN mission, Mr. Norzubi said that they, “Understand the concern, and will send all information back to our government.” Norzubi also encouraged The Epoch Times to continue to appeal for the right of free speech in Malaysia, saying that, “Maybe something will change if you continue to appeal.”

In a second attempt at a meeting with Malaysian officials last Friday, Epoch Times representative Dr. Wenyi Wang was escorted out of the Malaysian Consulate General’s office without a meeting.

Expressing her concern for the situation, Dr. Wang said, “We feel the Malaysian government has made a big mistake...our newspaper is the first to accurately report on the SARS epidemic ahead of the official Chinese report…this is only one example of many.”

In an Aug. 10 letter to the Office of Secretary General of Malaysia, R. Gunasingam, the Secretary General of The World Association of Press & Media Councils, voiced his concern for the situation, saying, “I encourage you to circulate The Epoch Times materials in Malaysia to develop a culture of debate, dialogue, and critical understanding of each other … for the future to avoid tragedy and suffering.”

Other NGOs, such as Accuracy in Media, Committee for the Protection of Journalism, and Reporters Without Borders have also spoken out about Malaysia’s ban of The Epoch Times.

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