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Malaysia ‘taking a leaf from Singapore’s book’ in suing critical voices: Malaysiakini editor

Malaysiakini editor defends its right to criticise Malaysian government

Malaysiakini editor on Australian TV

The editor of Malaysian independent news website Malaysiakini has said that the Malaysian government is “taking a leaf from Singapore’s book” in clamping down on critical voices online with legal action.

In an interview with Australian TV network ABC, Malaysiakini editor Steven Gan spoke out against Prime Minister Najib Razak’s decision to sue his website for reader comments critical of the government.

“Najib Razak [Malaysia’s Prime Minister] tries to portray a moderate image of himself. He has relaxed some of the media laws, although not by much. And now he’s decided to sue.”

This is the first time a Malaysian Prime Minister has sued the media, Gan said in the interview.

“The government is reacting by going back to old habits of using a stick [to control dissident voices]. It looks like the Malaysian government is taking leaf from Singapore’s book in suing its critics.”

The Malaysian PM’s legal action against Malaysiakini came in the same week that a 33 year-old Singaporean blogger Roy Ngerng was sued by the Prime Minister of Singapore.

Gan recounted incidents in the past of what he called “harassment” by the government, including a police raid where 19 computers were confiscated.

His five-minute interview with the ABC’s Beverley O’Connor can be watched here.

In a difficult period for press freedom in Southeast Asia, the Thai military, which has taken control of the country following a long period of political unrest, has also been clamping down on the country’s media.

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